Justin Hite — Stillwater NewsPress
Matt Pilgrim was as sure as he could have been, but on Sunday his status became official.
The NCAA declared that Pilgrim, a transfer from Kentucky, would be eligible to play immediately on the men’s basketball team at Oklahoma State and would have two remaining years of eligibility.
“I kind of knew it would go through,” Pilgrim said. “If it didn’t, that would have shocked me. I was already preparing for the season.”
The addition gives an immediate upgrade to an Oklahoma State front court that lacked size and depth last season.
Pilgrim, listed at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, instantly becomes one of the biggest players on the court for Oklahoma State. Fellow forward Marshall Moses was the Cowboys’ only consistent threat inside and at times averaged a double-double.
Pilgrim already learned Moses’ most obvious trait.
“He’s a real driven guy,” he said.
Last season, Pilgrim sat out the mandatory year at Kentucky after transferring from Hampton University.
Pilgrim left Kentucky this summer after new coach John Calipari did not give him a scholarship. This gave Pilgrim a chance to pick the school of his choice.
“It was a new start,” Pilgrim said. “The coaching staff was really into it — they cared, they were hungry. The style of play was something I like. It’s a spot where I can come in and contribute. It’s a spot where there was an opening at my spot and I can come in and play and just get ready.”
Pilgrim could start on the front line next to Moses. During his first two years at Hampton University, Pilgrim started 30 games and averaged 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest.
“We are excited that Matt will be able to be a part of the program this season,” OSU coach Travis Ford said in a press release. “He will make an immediate impact on this team with both his abilities and experience.”
Pilgrim was on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference all-rookie team after his first season.
Ford expects Pilgrim to bring toughness to an Oklahoma State team that struggled in the paint last season. OSU had only one consistent offensive playmaker inside and only one true interior player, playing four guards at times.
For the next two months, Pilgrim will try to get to know his teammates better — he is one of seven new faces on the OSU roster.