Likekele talks leadership, what he owes to OSU after deciding to return for junior season

OSU MBB vs. No. 24 Texas Tech 021520-7106.jpg

OSU guard Isaac Likekele dribbles during the Oklahoma State vs. No. 24 Texas Tech men's basketball game on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Isaac Likekele wanted to return for his junior season because he felt like he owed it to Oklahoma State and the city of Stillwater. 

The 6-foot-4 point guard said he couldn’t leave OSU without giving it something special.

“I just felt like everywhere I've been from middle school, high school, I've always won,” Likekele said. “I got to help bring something special to the city of Stillwater, something to remember the team by. I feel like I just owed them that personally.”

Although he wants to bring a championship home to OSU, it didn’t mean the thought of playing professional basketball wasn’t on his mind.

Likekele said he had numerous conversations with the people close to him about the possibility of declaring for the NBA draft. One of the people he talked with was OSU coach Mike Boynton.

“I always trust coach Boynton,” Likekele said. “Me and him talk about things, he always keeps everything honest and me and him both 100 percent agreed that I should be coming (back to OSU). 

A major reason as to why Likekele didn’t push forward in the idea of declaring for the draft was the lack of an NBA combine. In a perfect world, Likekele would’ve wanted to compete at the NBA combine, talk to scouts about his game and decide from there. 

“After we figured out there was no combine, we kinda knew it was kinda wrapped and we just decided to come on back,” Likekele said. 

Likekele had a lot of time to think about his decision while he’s back home in Arlington, Texas. Among getting in a few shots here and there, Likekele said he’s been painting and meditating. Boynton even sent him a book to read.

“I’m just trying to build new habits,” Likekele said.

With Likekele’s return, the Cowboys will have the leader they desperately need. He’ll lead a top-5 recruiting class that features the No. 1 player Cade Cunningham. Likekele will also have help from many returning players including one of the Big 12’s best shot blockers in Yor Anei.

In the end, it looks like a win-win situation for Likekele and OSU.

“I feel like there’s really no excuse for me not to lead,” Likekele said. “In the past two years, I would lead and then sometimes I might stop leading for a couple of minutes but that’s because I know I had (Cameron McGriff, Thomas Dziagwa and Lindy Waters) right there. 

 “I’m one of the most experienced guys on the roster so I know that I gotta lead the whole time throughout the whole season on and off the floor for these young guys.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com