OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Brad Underwood embraces the rich history at Oklahoma State.
One of the Big 12’s three new men’s basketball coaches, Underwood takes over a program built by Henry Iba and Eddie Sutton. Though Oklahoma State’s previous coach, Travis Ford, was successful by many standards, unhappy fans stopped coming to games, forcing the Cowboys to make a move.
Sutton, who still sometimes sits in the front row at home games, led the Cowboys to Final Fours in 1995 and 2004.
"That’s why I came here," Underwood said. "That’s why I wanted to be a part of this."
Underwood, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and TCU’s Jamie Dixon join a conference that is coming off one of its best years, with Oklahoma having reached the Final Four and Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia spending time in the top 10.
Beard steps into a pressure situation, too. Tubby Smith led Tech to the NCAA Tournament last season, then he took the job at Memphis. Beard said he thought Texas Tech’s run last season was one of the best stories in college basketball.
"I’ve got so much respect for coach Smith and the job that he did here," Beard said. "The foundation is solid. Our job is to try to take it to the next level."
Dixon, who spent 13 years as head coach at Pittsburgh before heading to TCU, said he likes what TCU’s administration has done to put him in position to be competitive.
"We had a lot of great coaches here over the years that I don’t think had the resources put in place that we have now," Dixon said. "I think that’s exciting for us. We’ve got a whole different amount of involvement."
Oklahoma’s 7-foot center was kicked off the team earlier this month after being accused of aggravated robbery in Minnesota.
"You hate seeing young men make decisions that don’t help them moving forward," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "We’re just pulling for AK in that sense. The team is way secondary to that."
Manyang was in line to fill some of the minutes vacated by Ryan Spangler, who is on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s summer league roster.
Kansas’ next big thing is Josh Jackson. You won’t catch him acting like it.
The small forward from San Diego was the McDonald’s All-American game co-MVP and was part of the FIBA U-17 World Championship team in 2014 and the U19 World Championship team in 2015.
Kansas coach Bill Self said Jackson has a good attitude and doesn’t seek attention.
"The feeling that I get from Josh is that he just wants to be a college kid," he said. "Of course, he’s not going to be a college kid very long. Certainly, he wants us in every way that we possibly can, to protect and shield him from all the talk that could potentially go on. He’s not caught up in it."
Beard left Arkansas-Little Rock for UNLV, then changed his mind a few weeks later and took the job at Texas Tech. Beard is from Texas, he was an assistant at Tech under Bobby Knight and Pat Knight, and his three daughters were already in Texas.
"It wasn’t an easy decision," Beard said. "It was difficult. The timing was terrible. I had a lot of respect for the people at UNLV, and we were 100 percent committed to trying to get the job done there, but sometimes in life, you get a special opportunity."
Six players from the Big 12 were selected in the draft: Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins; Iowa State’s Georges Niang and Abdel Nader; Baylor’s Taurean Prince and Kansas’ Cheick Diallo. Among those not drafted were Kansas’ Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden and Texas’ Isaiah Taylor. Ellis has signed as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks.
Two of the new coaches made splashes with mid-majors before taking their new jobs. Oklahoma State’s Underwood led Stephen F. Austin to a win over West Virginia in this year’s NCAA Tournament, while Texas Tech’s Beard led Arkansas-Little Rock past Purdue.