STILLWATER, Okla. — In mid-January, J.K. Hadlock laced up the basketball shoes to play for an organized team for the first time since March 2015.

The last time he played competitive basketball as part of a school team was in the Class A state championship game in Oklahoma City. He helped lead Glencoe High to its third-straight state title.

After high school, he played junior college baseball before enrolling at Oklahoma State to finish out his college education.

Then, in January, the OSU men’s basketball team had three players kicked off the team, and another who left the program. The Cowboys’ roster was depleted, so then second-year coach Mike Boynton turned to the OSU student body.

He held open walk-on tryouts. Several players, including Hadlock, were chosen as members of a scout team to help the Cowboys during practice. Once he was named an official Cowboy, Hadlock suited up during games.

Hadlock appeared in one game last year. In the final minutes of a road game at Kansas State, he scored two points and grabbed one rebound.

He’s still a member of the Cowboys’ program and has been working hard this summer to prepare for the 2019-20 season. Boynton joked about Hadlock’s physicality during last week’s media availability.

“He may be the most in-shape kid on our roster,” Boynton said. “I’m glad I didn’t go shirt and skins today, because I would have been embarrassed that one of those kids looks like that and he’s just a walk-on for us. I would have felt bad he’s not on scholarship.”

Hadlock will be a senior this winter. He will be competing along with a large corps of newcomers on the roster for playing time this year. Thus far, he’s impressing his coach.

“He works his tail off,” Boynton said. “He spent the entire four-week period between the end of spring and summer continuing to work. We have a lot of guys who spend a lot of time in the gym, but not sure very many spend more time in the gym than he does. I think he feels a great appreciation for being here and having an opportunity to help our program. I don’t mind playing anybody, so if he earns an opportunity to get on the court, then he’ll see some minutes.”

Summer progress?

The Cowboys have been working hard this summer in preparation for the upcoming year. They are introducing seven new players, six of whom are freshmen.

They are joining last year’s starting five of sophomore Isaac Likekele, senior Thomas Dziagwa, senior Lindy Waters, senior Cameron McGriff and sophomore Yor Anei.

“I’m really pleased with where we are,” Boynton said. “We’ve got a good mix. Obviously, we’ve got some really talented freshmen, but we also have some veterans who are champing at the bit to have a really successful season.”

The third-year OSU coach was asked about where he feels this year’s team is compared to last year, when he was also dealing with a lot of newcomers – many of whom are no longer with the program.

“I feel right now like we have some quality depth,” Boynton said. “If you ask me that on Nov. 5, a day before we play our first game, I may tell you we have only five guys who can play tomorrow. I’m excited. We have a good mixture of guys who not only have the talent, but have the right mindset.

“They’ve been really active this summer in terms of trying to transform their bodies. … If we have all these guys available in position to game plan and help us win, then I think that bodes well for our success over the course of the next season.”

Dutch versatility

One of the six freshmen on this year’s roster is Hidde Roessink, a 6-foot-10 product from Arnhem, Netherlands. He spent the past two years as an amateur in the highest levels of basketball in the Netherlands.

Roessink impressed Boynton in many ways, one of which was his outside shooting ability.

“I think we took him to Hideaway within the first three hours and we ate like 8,000 calories of pizza, and then we came here (GIA) and the schedule said he was supposed to work out,” Boynton said. “So, unfortunately, he put on some shorts and he worked out. He shot like 90 percent from 3, and I was like, ‘We can’t let that kid leave campus without signing here.’

“I was excited about his ability. He’s really, really smart. I look forward to seeing what he can do from a versatility standpoint. He can give us a little bit more way to defend, but also other ways we can attack on the offensive end.”

New 3-point line

The NCAA adopted a rule to move the 3-point line back this year. It was moved from 20-9 to 22-1 3/4, which is the international distance.

It should open the paint up more. But as far as impacting shooters, the Cowboys’ coach don’t think it will affect his squad.

“For the freshmen, it was going to be a new line anyway,” Boynton said. “For Thomas Dziagwa, if you know anything about him, I don’t know if he knows the line exists on the floor. He doesn’t really shoot close to it. Lindy has gotten to a place where he’s shooting them deeper. So, I don’t think it will affect us that much. I feel good about our ability to make shots from that distance, and it will be a big part of what we do.”


Gillispie writes for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication.