Issac Likekele still finds himself in awe of his special new piece of jewelry.
At 19, still yet to start his sophomore year at Oklahoma State and carrying the usual stresses of a college student, Likekele now owns a gold medal won representing his country on the international stage.
The Cowboys’ rising sophomore played a significant role in Team USA’s Fiba U19 World Cup victory in Greece, averaging
8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game throughout the tournament.
“It still kind of hasn’t really just hit me yet, like, I’m a gold medalist” Likekele said. “Once they put that medal on, you’re like, ‘Man, I really did it.’”
Likekele joins Matt Clark, Juwan Evans and Marcus Smart as the only players in OSU’s history to win gold at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
“It’s a blessing just to even be named with those few people selected,” Likekele said, “and I just want to just keep on going from there.”
Likekele said the tournament impacted his basketball IQ and his mindset going into next season.
“I feel like I was a lot better decision-wise,” he said. “I really became a student of the game after the season, just getting to know myself and make better decisions out there.
"Since I was the older guy, they looked to me down the stretch for certain types of plays.”
One of these younger guys that Likekele played with was Cade Cunningham, a 5-star prospect and brother of new OSU assistant, Cannen Cunningham.
“It was pretty fun," Likekele said about playing with Cade. "Cade and I are from the same city, so we knew each other before that. We never played together, but we always knew each other and talked. So it was nothing new. Just two friends out there playing on the court.”
Now that Likekele has the gold, one question still remains: what is he going to do with it?
“I got it at my place right now.” He said. “I’ve got to take some photos with it, then I’m going to send it home to my family.”
Likekele carries the reputation of a hard worker. The gold medal helps to confirm that notion.
Cowboys coach Mike Boynton recognizes it, too.
"We basically shut him down for a couple of weeks,” Boynton said. "He's champing at the bit. I think he landed in Oklahoma City Monday night at 11:30 p.m., and I told him specifically not to come to the gym the next day.
“But he's a great teammate, he missed his guys, and so I got up here to workout at 6 a.m. the next morning and he was already in here."