'I still dislike school a lot': Why Bryce Williams could return to Oklahoma State basketball in 2021-22
STILLWATER — As Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton held a microphone, “One more year” chants filled Gallagher-Iba Arena.
They weren’t for freshman superstar Cade Cunningham.
The chants were aimed at Ole Miss transfer Bryce Williams.
“I’m going to pick on Bryce, because it’s appropriate,” Boynton told the crowd. “He had a chance to come here before and he made a poor choice. Obviously, he should come back for one more year.”
The chants swelled even more.
For the second straight Bedlam game, Williams' offense came alive. This time, his defense against OU’s Austin Reaves was a huge spark.
Cowboy fans want Williams and his uncanny athleticism and intense defense back for another season. He remains undecided.
- Related to this story
- Article: Bedlam basketball: 3 takeaways from Oklahoma State's 79-75 win over OU for series sweep
- Article: OU basketball: Three things we learned from Sooners' Bedlam loss to Oklahoma State
- Article: Tramel: Oklahoma State sweeps Bedlam basketball, with best player Cade Cunningham & then the better team
- Article: OU basketball: Reeling Sooners 'have to bounce back' after Bedlam sweep
- Video: OSU Basketball: Bedlam sweep
“That’s nothing but love,” Williams said. “Can’t not like that.”
But it’s hard to blame the fans. Cunningham is the one player guaranteed to leave. Williams returning would be huge.
The back-to-back Bedlam matchups show why.
On Saturday, he scored eight straight points in the second half to help the Cowboys erase a nine-point deficit in the overtime win. Williams made four 3-pointers, breaking out of a shooting slump in which he had made just four treys in his last eight games.
Williams admitted his confidence was shaken at times during the slump. He hesitated to shoot. But after that first one went in Saturday, he felt like every shot had a chance.
Monday night, he again made three 3-pointers and scored 14 points. In the opening half, he again scored eight straight points to help OSU erase a nine-point deficit.
His biggest trey came with 6:26 remaining on a fastbreak that put the Cowboys ahead for good. Cunningham had bullied his way to the basket twice for layups after OU built a five-point lead, leading to Williams’ moment.
“He’s pretty streaky, but sometimes he overthinks just the offensive game,” Boynton said. “He makes a more complicated play than he needs to make, but that’s the competitor in him. He thinks he can make plays that sometimes other people wouldn’t think they can make.”
Williams’ confidence after Saturday soared.
He asked Boynton ahead of Monday’s game to switch his defensive assignment, too. Avery Anderson III primarily defended Reaves in the first game. But Anderson was not 100%.
Williams wanted to guard Reaves.
What followed was an entertaining battle. For 38 minutes Williams hounded Reaves, leading to frustration from OU’s leader. Reaves filled the stat sheet, but not without extra work. He made just 5 of 14 shots, missed a wide-open dunk that was put on loop on the arena videoboard and even was warned for flopping.
“Last game, we were chit-chatting a lot, going back and forth,” Williams said. “So, it really carried over to this game. I wanted to take that assignment.
“I wanted to take on the challenge and accept the challenge. Try to guard him 94 feet and make everything tough on him.”
It was that tenacity that won over OSU fans throughout the season. But this weekend they made their love clear.
Williams’ one season has been a revelation for him and the Cowboys.
He played two years in junior college before choosing Ole Miss over the Cowboys last season. He did not enjoy his experience, so he got a second chance with OSU.
Williams made the most of it.
He’s starting. He’s delivering in big moments.
Now, he faces a decision. He asked on his Twitter page Sunday night if he should return. OSU created a poll and more than 97% of the vote said Williams should stay.
A decision likely comes in March Madness.
“I just haven’t made up my mind yet,” Williams said. “It’d be great to come back, but I still dislike school a lot.”