#78 Oklahoma Sooners: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

In just his second season as Oklahoma Sooners head coach, Lon Kruger led the team back to the NCAA Tournament last year.  With several key players graduating though, expect OU to take a step back in the Big 12 this season.

OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Last Season: T-4th, 11-7 in Big 12, 20-12 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 6th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Keshaun Hamilton (Jr)
F: Ryan Spangler (So)/Tyler Neal (Sr)/C.J. Cole (Fr)
SF: Cameron Clark (Sr)/D.J. Bennett (Jr)
SG: Buddy Hield (So)/Isaiah Cousins (So)/Frank Booker (Fr)
PG: Je’lon Hornbeak (So)/Jordan Woodard (Fr)

Gone: SG-Steven Pledger, PF-Romero Osby, F/C-Amath M’Baye, F/C-Andrew Fitzgerald, PG-Sam Grooms, C-Casey Arent

2013-2014 Outlook:
Oklahoma loses their top three scorers from a year ago and will rely heavily on their sophomore backcourt of Buddy Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak.  Despite averaging just 7.8 points per game as a freshman, Hield is the team’s top returning scorer and should step into the role of go-to scorer.  In mid-August, Hornbeak had foot surgery to repair a stress fracture and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks of action meaning he may not be ready for the season opener.

Isaiah Cousins is another sophomore guard who saw significant minutes in his first year at Norman.  The combo guard provides versatility in the backcourt though he didn’t show much as a scorer a year ago.  He will likely start at the point if Hornbeak is not 100% by November.  Freshmen Jordan Woodard and Frank Booker will battle for minutes as well and could see key minutes right away depending on the Hornbeak situation.

There are several questions surrounding the Oklahoma frontcourt since they lose three key contributors.  This will be the final go around for Cameron Clark who was a highly-touted recruit coming out of his school but has been a massive disappointment thus far.  Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler returns to his home state after sitting out last season and should start right away.  The former Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year must make an immediate impact if the Sooners are going to return to the tourney.

With junior college transfer Edson Avila failing to qualify, the long true big man on the roster will be JUCO transfer Keshaun Hamilton.  At 6-10, 270, Hamilton is a load inside but expect Oklahoma to use some smaller line-ups with Spangler and Clark playing the five and four respectively.  Seldom-used Tyler Neal will compete for bench minutes with D.J. Bennett and C.J. Cole who both redshirted last year.

The one advantage for Oklahoma is that the Big 12 has teams like TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Texas who are really going to struggle this year.  Still, I don’t see the Sooners having what it takes to finish in the top four of the Big 12 and make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Player to Watch: Cameron Clark
The 6-7 wing was a top 40 recruit in the 2010 class but flat out hasn’t lived up to the hype.  He didn’t start a single game as a junior and saw a significant dip in playing time.  With a lot of uncertainty in their frontcourt, Clark needs to finally have that breakout season in hopes of salvaging his college career.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. Alabama (in Dallas)
11/11 vs. North Texas
11/22 vs. Seton Hall (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic)
11/23 vs. Michigan State/Virginia Tech (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic)
12/8 at George Mason
12/14 vs. Tulsa
12/21 vs. Texas A&M (Big 12/SEC Challenge in Houston)
12/30 vs. Louisiana Tech

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#79 Richmond
#80 Manhattan
#81 Belmont
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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