Photo Caption: JK Hadlock is a member of the OSU Cowboys basketball program. OSU Athletics/Courtney Bay
STILLWATER, Okla. — Grayhorse is about to get a little more orange.
On Feb. 21, the Oklahoma State University athletic department officially added Osage Nation citizen J.K. Hadlock to the school’s basketball roster just in time for the Cowboys’ road trip to league-leading Kansas State University.
Hadlock earned a spot on the basketball team’s practice squad in January after multiple discipline-related departures led to an open tryout.
“I’ve been practicing with the team for about a month, but it still doesn’t seem real yet,” he said. “I dreamed about playing college ball as a kid and to try out and make it … it’s awesome.”
A Pah-Su-Li’n water boy and a member of the Grayhorse In-Lon-Schka dance committee, Hadlock was a 2015 Indian All-State and Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State basketball selection, as well as part of two state championship teams.
Despite the prep basketball accolades, the Glencoe High School graduate played junior college baseball at Northern Oklahoma College-Enid and Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas. A torn labrum ended his pitching career, but not his basketball prospects.
“After I transferred to OSU, I kept playing lots of basketball,” he said. “And when I heard about the tryouts, I figured ‘What’s the harm?’”
According to data published in December by the NCAA, just 14 Native American men played Division I basketball in 2018. With Hadlock and Cherokee Nation citizen Gabe Simpson joining Kiowa and Cherokee junior Lindy Waters III, the Cowboys now have more indigenous players on their roster than any Division I basketball conference did last season.
Student-athlete demographics from the 2018-2019 season will not be published until later this year.
For Hadlock, having Waters and Simpson as teammates helped bridge the gap between Gallagher-Iba Arena and the Glencoe High gymnasium.
“Having three Natives on the team … it helps make it feel like home,” Hadlock said.