He comes from one of the first families of college basketball.
He is a member of the prestigious Henry P. Iba coaching tree.
He has been preparing for a coaching career his entire life.
And now he heads up one of America's most storied basketball programs.
The 2006-2007 basketball season will officially launch the head coaching career of new Oklahoma State head coach and OSU graduate Sean Sutton. And perhaps no one has ever been more prepared for their first season at the head of the bench.
Sutton played in Gallagher-Iba Arena on a pair of Sweet 16 teams. As an assistant coach and eventually head-coach designate, he helped his father, the legendary Eddie Sutton, keep Oklahoma State at or near the top of the Big Eight/Big 12 standings for the better part of two decades. He has a firm grasp and respect of OSU's storied history, and yet is considered one of the game's innovators, despite being in the beginning stages of his career.
The preparation for his first season as head coach began for Sean Sutton long before he arrived in Stillwater. During his childhood, he was often picked up by a student manager and driven to the University of Arkansas, where he would watch his father put the Razorbacks on the college basketball map. He would observe Eddie Sutton's practices every day, sitting for hours, mesmerized by the action and fascinated by the game his father taught.
As a two-year letterwinner for the Kentucky Wildcats, the younger Sutton experienced the highs and lows of college basketball. And after sitting out the 1989-90 season, he enrolled at Oklahoma State and was an instant starter for the Cowboys. He helped lead Oklahoma State to back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances in 1991 and 1992. Coupled with his Sweet 16 appearance at Kentucky in 1988, Sutton became the only player in OSU history to have advanced to three Sweet 16 appearances in his playing career.
As a player, he earned honorable mention All-Big Eight accolades as both a junior and a senior at Oklahoma State, and made the All-District V team in 1992. Despite playing just two seasons in a Cowboy uniform, Sutton etched his name in the Cowboy record book several times. He is the only player in OSU history to record at least 20 points and 10 assists in the same game as he tallied 21 points and 11 assists against Centenary on Dec. 5, 1990.
During Sutton's two-year playing career at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys' program was revived under Eddie Sutton. OSU reclaimed its place among the Big Eight and national powers with a two-year record of 52-16 and a regular-season conference title. The Cowboys climbed as high as No. 2 in the national polls during his senior season and won the Preseason NIT.
Following his successful playing career, Sutton spent the 1992-93 season as an assistant coach on Rob Evans' staff at Mississippi before returning to his alma mater prior to the 1993-94 academic year.
During his initial season as an assistant at OSU, the Cowboys went 24-10 and finished second in the Big Eight Conference. The Pokes lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and were ranked 19th in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls.
The following year, with Bryant Big Country Reeves and Randy Rutherford on the court, Oklahoma State went 27-10 and once again finished second in the league. But thanks to a sticky defense and a squad meshing parts, the Cowboys' postseason offered a fun ride. Oklahoma State claimed the championship of the Big Eight Tournament and went on to make their first Final Four appearance in over 40 years as OSU fell to eventual national champion UCLA in the national semifinals.
After back-to-back seasons with less than 20 wins, Oklahoma State returned to the NCAA Tournament in 1998 with a 22-7 record and runner-up finish in the Big 12 Conference's second year of existence. The 1998-99 season followed the same path as the Cowboys went 23-11, including 10-6 in the league, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
OSU advanced to the Elite Eight in 2000, compiling a 27-7 record, and finishing third in the conference, despite a 12-4 record. The Cowboys were ranked fifth in the final ESPN/Coaches Poll following the NCAA Tournament.
The success continued into the new century. Oklahoma State returned to Final Four in 2004 with a stunning 31-4 record that included Big 12 championships in the regular season as well as the conference tournament. The Cowboys made another Sweet 16 appearance in 2005 and claimed yet another conference tournament title.
And so Sean Sutton ascends into the role of head coach after playing an integral role in one of the more dominating eras in Cowboy basketball history.
Last season, in the absence of his father, Sean accumulated an unofficial record of 5-6, including an impressive 81-60 victory over No. 6 Texas in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Feb. 19. The Cowboys nearly defeated 12th-ranked Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship before falling to the Jayhawks, 63-62.
During the course of his career on the Cowboy sidelines, Sean Sutton gradually took on more responsibilities. And when he was named as the eventual successor to his father, Cowboy recruiting didn't reach a new level it reached several new levels.
In the last six years, the Cowboys have twice brought in the top-ranked recruiting class in the country. Along the way, Sutton was named the National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com, one of the recognized experts on basketball recruiting.
During the summer of 2000, Clark Francis, Bob Gibbons, Van Coleman and Greg Swaim unanimously voted Oklahoma State's incoming class the No. 1 recruiting haul in the nation. That group included Maurice Baker, Terrence Crawford, Ivan McFarlin and Melvin Sanders.
Five years later, during the summer of 2005, OSU once again brought in the top recruiting class in the country. Francis, Gibbons, Coleman and Swaim were joined by Eddie Oliver, USA Today and cbssportsline.com in awarding Oklahoma State's recruiting class the title of America's best. Despite the loss of the No. 1 player in the country Gerald Green to the NBA, Sutton brought in three junior college All-Americans and five high schoolers ranked in the top-75 nationally.
From the time he was old enough to walk, Sutton has been around basketball. As a player at Oklahoma State, it was clear he was a coach's son. He displayed those typical characteristics with smart decisions, precision shooting and iron-willed tenacity. Those traits are certainly followed him into his coaching career.
And while the Cowboys will likely continue their tradition of man-to-man defense and smart play, there is little doubt that Sean Sutton will integrate his own philosophies into those learned from his father as well as Mr. Iba.
Sean Sutton's influence in OSU's rise to national prominence is well documented. In 13 years with him on the sidelines, the Cowboys made 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight three times. In his career as an assistant coach, he developed numerous players into NBA-caliber performers, and even more into all-conference selections.
Bryant Reeves, Brooks Thompson, Randy Rutherford, Desmond Mason, Fredrik Jönzén, Tony Allen, and Joey Graham have all been successful playing professional basketball. And Thompson has joined the constantly growing Oklahoma State coaching tree with his new appointment as the head coach at Texas-San Antonio.
The 38-year-old Sutton was born Oct. 4, 1968, in Twin Falls, Idaho. He graduated from Oklahoma State with a degree in social studies in 1992. He and his wife, the former Trena Winters, have three sons: Hunter (14), Spencer (9) and Sean Parker (4).
Sean Suttons Impact at Oklahoma State
|1999-2000||Associate Head Coach||27-7||.794|
|2000-01||Associate Head Coach||20-10||.667|
|2001-02||Associate Head Coach||23-9||.719|
|2002-03||Associate Head Coach||22-10||.688|
|2003-04||Head Coach Designate||31-4||.886|
|2004-05||Head Coach Designate||26-7||.788|
|2005-06||Head Coach Designate||17-16||.515|
|Totals||15 seasons with the program||348-142||.710|
NCAA Tournaments (13)
1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Sweet 16s (6)
1991, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2005
Elite Eights (3)
1995, 2000, 2004
Final Fours (2)
Conference Titles (2)
Conference Tournament Titles (3)
1995, 2004, 2005