By Harry Indicott
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Fred Gulley, a native of Fayetteville, Ark., learned to love basketball at a young age.
"I have a sister that's five years older than me, so growing up, I was always playing against her, watching her play, and just being around basketball," Gulley said.
It was this early love of the game that eventually brought him to Oklahoma State University to play for Travis Ford and the Cowboy Basketball program.
Gulley, a redshirt sophomore point guard at OSU, is a major piece of the Cowboys' young and inexperienced basketball team. Unfortunately, over the past year, Gulley has been all too familiar with adversity on the basketball court.
After starting in the first seven games of the 2010-11 season, Gulley suffered a shoulder injury. The injury demanded surgery that would keep him on the bench for the rest of the season.
"It was tough because I had to sit out and watch the team and see places where I could make the team better," said Gulley.
Last season, the Cowboys finished with a 20-14 record, only one of those losses coming with Fred Gulley in the lineup. Oklahoma State finished the year with a loss at Washington State in the second round of the NIT.
"Just seeing the team out there going through practice and going through games without me was tough, but I think it made me better in a lot of areas," Gulley said.
At the beginning of this season, Gulley was hungry to bounce back strongly from his injury.
"It's tough not being able to do something that you had grown up doing and always had," Gulley explained. "Getting cleared and able to get back out on the court was really exciting."
Gulley was averaging almost six points in 18 minutes of playing time over the first four games of his comeback season. However, the season was almost brought to another grinding halt when he appeared to re-injure his shoulder in a Cowboy loss to the Stanford Cardinal on Nov. 23 in Madison Square Garden.
With Gulley out, the Cowboys played hard, but fell short against Virginia Tech in the third-place consolation game of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, losing 59-57.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Gulley only missed a couple of games, including
the game against Virginia Tech as well as an Oklahoma State win over Tulsa the
Gulley once again returned to the court on Dec. 4 against Langston University in Gallagher-Iba Arena. While he struggled to find the basket in his first game back from his second injury, scoring only one point, Gulley managed to rack up four assists, three rebounds, and a steal against Langston.
Gulley appeared back to full strength in the Cowboys' next outing at Missouri State, playing an instrumental role in Oklahoma State's impressive comeback victory.
"That was a big game and it felt really good," Gulley said. "You always want to do whatever you can to help your team out."
Gulley was able to get to the free-throw line seven times and made six of his attempts, helping rally the Cowboys to their first road win of the season after trailing by 12 points in the first half.
"Being able to step up and hit a few baskets always feels good," said Gulley. "It always feels better if you can win."
While big things may be ahead for Gulley on the basketball court, he has other big goals on his mind too.
"Graduating is definitely a big goal of mine. That's one of my main focuses."