Jonathan Laurent has a unique role on the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team.
He hasn’t been through the whirlwind years of changes in the Cowboys’ program that seniors Lindy Waters III, Cameron McGriff, Thomas Dziagwa and Trey Reeves have experienced. But unlike the eager freshmen who anxiously made their OSU debuts in an exhibition game Friday night, Laurent is a seasoned college basketball player.
After two seasons at Rutgers, one year of sitting out because of transfer rules and one season playing for the University of Massachusetts, Laurent decided to spend his graduate transfer year at OSU.
He is a voice of guidance for the freshmen, but at the same time, he is learning about Cowboy basketball alongside them. At an open practice in late September, Laurent and the freshmen competed against a team of the Cowboys’ veteran players. After the casual intrasquad scrimmage, Laurent said the transition process has been challenging but enjoyable.
“Everybody’s looking at me to be a leader," Laurent said, "But I don’t really know the ropes of Oklahoma State, but it’s been fun and interesting. Everybody’s opened their arms and embraced me as a teammate, so definitely, it’s been difficult, but everybody’s been helping me out.”
Laurent has practiced with the guards and the forwards, and he said he doesn’t mind alternating positions.
“I’ve been doing it my whole college career,” Laurent said.
As a freshman at Rutgers, Laurent had 8.1 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. At UMass, he led the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 46.7 shooting percentage from 3-point range, and he scored at least 10 points in 16 games.
He endured a season in which the Minutemen went 11-21 overall and 4-14 in conference play. With a chance for a fresh start, Laurent chose OSU because of his trust in coach Mike Boynton, who is striving to elevate his replenished team after a year of managing a squad that ended the season with a roster of only seven active scholarship players and a 12-20 record.
"I came on my visit, he seemed like one of the most genuine guys I've ever met," Laurent said. "I believed in him that he would make me a better player and push me to be a better player, and the five core guys that were here last year, I met them, really liked what they were speaking about, so just the whole plan just intrigued me.”
Boynton said some graduate transfers might be self-centered when they make the leap to a major conference for one year, but Laurent isn’t that type of guy.
“He’s really dialed in to having success and making himself a part of the team,” Boynton said. “Low ego guy, he tries to help the younger guys still even though he doesn’t necessarily know as much about our system. But he knows about the process of becoming a good player in college.”
Laurent described his first OSU practice as the best of his college career because of the energy among coaches and players. He has worked with the Cowboys since summer, and after their exhibition victory against Rogers State, they are preparing to host Oral Roberts at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
It's the first regular-season OSU game for Laurent and his freshman teammates. As one of six active newcomers on the roster, Laurent recognizes his younger peers' skills.
“A lot of raw talent right now,” Laurent said. “As soon as you mold it, the sky’s the limit.”