Thomas Dziagwa and Cameron McGriff have been linked since they stepped on the Oklahoma State campus three years ago.
The pair of OSU seniors, along with classmate Lindy Waters, have been through a lot, including coaching changes and various challenges, during their college basketball careers.
Before beginning training for their final season in orange and black, they spent about a month together rehabbing injuries together. It was time well spent … together for one final ride.
“It’s been great,” said Dziagwa, the Temple Terrace, Florida, native. “I’ve been here with him for three years, so another month out of the year isn’t bad. He’s like family to me.”
McGriff was also happy his longtime teammate was with him during the rehab process.
“It was great,” said McGriff, a Grand Prairie, Texas, native. “We definitely got closer during the past four weeks. We also definitely got better. We push each other every day trying to become better players.”
Third-year OSU coach Mike Boynton was proud of his seniors for working together.
“It’s just another sign of their connectiveness and their belief in each other to care for one another,” Boynton said. “They both fought through the season from a physical standpoint and gave us everything they had. For them to want to lean on each other for a month, without anyone else around, just speaks to their commitment to our program and to each other trying to have the best senior season possible.
“It just shows a level of commitment. Those guys could have gone home and said they were going to rehab on their own and see their own doctor. But, no they wanted to be here and wanted to get the physical therapy they needed from our trainers and get in the weight room to work on their bodies. Just being able to help each other and push each other through the last four or five weeks without anyone else around was really big for them.”
Dziagwa was rehabbing his shooting wrist. Early in the 2018-19 season, he took a charge during a home game and fell on his right wrist.
“I usually never get ice after games, but I remember my wrist being really sore and hurting,” Dziagwa said. “I got ice after and they checked it out, but weren’t sure what it was. They said they could check it out or just patch it up. I just decided that I didn’t want to find out.”
Dziagwa played through the unknown injury for the remainder of the season. He shot 42.5 percent from behind the arc, making 105 3-pointers – all on an injured shooting wrist.
He thought it was just a sprained wrist that didn’t have time to heal during the season, because of the minutes he was playing (32.1 per game). After the season concluded in March, Dziagwa had an MRI taken and it revealed more damage than originally thought.
Dziagwa had partially torn the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex in his wrist. There was also debris in the wrist that needed to be cleaned out.
So, he underwent surgery on two different occasions. Then came the rehab and treatment process.
“It was pretty serious,” Boynton said. “I knew it was bothering him, but he couldn’t do a whole lot about it at the time. I’m glad we didn’t cause any significant damage further to him and happy that now we get him fully healthy and add some depth back to the roster. Again, the focus is on trying to be the best we can be for the next 12 months.”
At the same time, McGriff was resting and staying away from the game he loved. His back needed the rest.
“It was hard being away from the game for as long as I was,” McGriff said. “I just had to come back and get back on track.”
McGriff was cleared to begin working on his back’s flexibility. Dziagwa was also ready to get back in the weight room and get his wrist back to full strength.
“It was a mutual decision,” Dziagwa said. “I talked to Coach Mike and he thought it would be best to get rehab and stay. Then Cam had a stress reaction in his back, so it was best for him to stay and workout and get stronger like I was doing. It was a mutual decision within the program.”
The two seniors who have endured more than most college athletes during their careers at OSU relied on each other throughout the healing and rehab process. It strengthened the brotherhood they had already formed since coming to Stillwater.
“It was huge having someone next to you that can push you to your limits,” McGriff said. “It was definitely a good thing. Working out by yourself, you can only get so much out of it. Bringing another person around, you can definitely feed off their energy.”
This week, they both began offseason workouts after the freshman class reported to campus last week They are both feeling good and healthy, ready for their final ride in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I definitely feel like I’m in a much better place from where I was two months ago,” McGriff said. “I wouldn’t say 110 percent, but pretty close.”
Dziagwa joked he isn’t sure if he’ll have a shooting challenge like last summer when Boynton challenged him to make 25,000 shots before the team left for its Europe trip in early August.
However, he did say he’ll likely make more than 25,000, especially once his wrist fully heals, whether there’s a challenge or not.
“I’ve gotten cleared to do all shooting and all lifting,” Dziagwa said. “I’m still doing stuff to monitor it, but I’ve been cleared. It’s coming on very progressively.”