Oklahoma Sooners Should Take a Step Back (Big 12 Preview)


oklahoma dance team

In losing All-American Buddy Hield and two other starters, the Oklahoma Sooners have a young roster and should take a step back in the Big 12 this season.

Last Season: 3rd, 12-6 in Big 12, 25-7 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 6th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Khadeem Lattin (Jr)/Jamuni McNeace (So)/Matt Freeman (Fr)
F: Dante Buford (So)/Kristian Doolittle (Fr)/C.J. Cole (Sr)
G/F: Rashard Odomes (So)
SG: Christian James (So)/Kameron McGusty (Fr)
PG: Jordan Woodard (Sr)/Darrion Strong (Jr)/Jordan Shepherd (Fr)

Gone: SG-Buddy Hield, G-Isaiah Cousins, C-Ryan Spangler, G-Dinjiyl Walker, C-Akolda Manyang (dismissed), SG-Bola Alade (transfer-UTSA)

buddy hield pelicans

On a team that must replace more than half of their scoring, rebounding, and assists from last season, it is a huge plus for Lon Kruger to return an experienced guard in Jordan Woodard. He averaged 13 points and shot 45.5% from three-point range but was often overshadowed by his backcourt mates, Hield and Isaiah Cousins. The Sooners are truly Woodard’s team this season and they sorely need his experience and poise at the point guard position.

Question Marks:
Outside of Woodard and Khadeem Lattin, there is a ton of inexperience on the roster. Dante Buford and Christian James were role players last season as freshmen but need to take major leaps as sophomores. The additions of top 100 freshmen Kameron McGusty and Kristian Doolittle add talent to the roster but Kruger will really have to spin his magic with all this youth if the Oklahoma Sooners are going to return the Big Dance for a fifth straight year.


Player to Watch:
The graduation of Spangler and dismissal of Akolda Manyang means Lattin should slide over to the center position after primarily being used as a power forward the past two years. Due to his length and athleticism, Lattin is a solid rim protector and rebounder but needs to become more of a low post scoring option to take some of the pressure off the guards.

Of all the young players on the roster, Dante Buford should play the biggest role. He figures to start alongside Lattin in the frontcourt and will have to play bigger than his 6-7 height as the power forward. Buford is athletic at the rim but can also step out and knock down jumpers.


Looking Ahead to 2017-18:
Kruger has landed a pair of commits that should add needed depth inside in 6-11 Finnish center, Hannes Polla and Brady Manek. With all the young wings and forwards, OU should be in solid shape moving forward.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 vs. Tulane (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/18 vs. Arizona State/Northern Iowa (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/20 vs. Xavier/Missouri/Clemson/Davidson (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
12/3 at Wisconsin
12/10 vs. Wichita State (in OKC)
12/17 vs. Memphis
12/21 vs. Auburn (in Connecticut)
1/28 vs. Florida (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)

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 Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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