By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
On his first day with the Oklahoma State men's basketball team three years ago, walk-on center Mason Cox claimed his first block in practice against one of college basketball's best dunkers.
“I remember the first practice I ever had, I was talking with Brian Williams and Markel Brown about it the other day, the first two times they ever drove on me they tried to dunk it on me — just picking on the new kid I guess,” said Cox, who never played basketball until joining the rec league at the Colvin Center. “But they both ended up on the floor and I don’t think they've ever tried since.”
Brown didn’t shy away from acknowledging that the Division I athlete on scholarship found himself on the floor when going against the walk-on whose main basketball experience was as a scout team player for the Oklahoma State women's basketball program.
“Why’d he tell you all that?” Brown said. “Yeah, it’s kind of true. A little bit.
“He’s a big, solid guy on the inside and we’re going to need him more coming off the bench. He can give us some quality minutes. He's one of the best rebounders on this team along with Kamari (Murphy) and Le'Bryan (Nash). We can use his height advantage and his work ethic.”
So it may not be that big of a surprise when the senior engineering major finally saw meaningful playing time Tuesday against Texas that he showed Cowboy nation his defensive capabilities.
The 6-foot-10 center from Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, the same school attended by Marcus Smart and Phil Forte, showed his soccer goalkeeping skills by blocking a shot, two steals and three rebounds in six minutes.
And with his inspired play in Oklahoma State's blowout loss, Cox drew praise from his teammates, coaches and the love of social media.
“My phone was just blowing up from people texting me, and Twitter, and Facebook,” Cox said. “I had a few guys from my soccer days that I hadn’t talked to in about five years that were texting me. It was pretty cool.”
After his performance against Texas, Cowboy coach Travis Ford said to expect Cox to see more time on the court starting Saturday against Bedlam rival Oklahoma to help with their issues in the post area — even though according to Ford, the walk-on center only practices roughly 60 to 65 percent due to class conflicts.
“We’ll see (how much), but I’ve told him he's obviously got to be ready,” Ford said. “He’s got to get in shape, first of all, and learn everything we're doing. But I don’t worry about that. I've just told him to be prepared to go if need be.”