Oklahoma Sooners: Buddy Hield

A battle with a former Big 12 rival highlights the men’s basketball schedule for Oklahoma. The Sooners will take on Texas A&M, who moved to the SEC this year, in the All-College Classic on Dec. 15 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Sooners 14-game non-conference slate features seven home games including a Dec. 29 contest against Ohio, one of the darlings of March Madness 2011. Road games at Arkansas (Dec. 4) and Oral Roberts (Nov. 28) highlight their road slate.

[+] EnlargeLon Kruger
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireLon Kruger and the Sooners will play on national television 17 times this season.
OU will also participate in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. from Nov. 23 thru Nov. 25.

The November schedule sets up well for the Sooners, who return their entire starting five from last season and lost just two contributors from the roster.

After spending their Thanksgiving in Florida, OU faces the toughest stretch of its non conference schedule with games at Arkansas, in Oklahoma City against Texas A&M and back to back home games against Stephen F. Austin and Ohio. Fortunately for Lon Kruger’s squad, those four games will be played in a span of 25 days and make up the majority of OU’s December schedule because of finals.

OU will appear on national television 17 times this season (11 on ESPN or ESPN2, 6 on ESPNU), six more than last season.

The Sooners enter this season with plenty of optimism with the addition of Wyoming transfer Amath M'Baye along with talented freshman guards Buddy Hield, Je’Lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins. They join a roster which returns six players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game in Kruger’s first season.
NORMAN, Okla. -- The commitment of Jordan Woodard (Edmond, Okla./Memorial) is a terrific coup for Oklahoma for the Class of 2013.

A four-star prospect with a 80 rating, according to ESPN.com, Woodard is one of the nation’s top point guards. The strong, steady guard is an ideal fit for the overall program and the future teams that Lon Kruger is looking to build in Norman.

[+] EnlargeJordan Woodard
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comJordan Woodard is the Sooners' first commit for the Class of 2013.
Woodard is a team-first player who has an excellent feel for running a team. He’s not a dynamic shooter or unstoppable scorer but he makes his teammates better and helps his team win. He also rates as a solid defender who should be able to hold his own and possibly set the tone defensively for OU.
Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. Hope everyone had a great fourth of July. The Opening gets underway today and RecruitingNation will have you covered as a nation’s best compete in Oregon. Even though Sooners commit Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca-Delray High) is unable to attend, The Opening gives you a chance to get a good look at the elite talent in the Class of 2013. You can catch The Opening on ESPNU at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

2. EA's NCAA Football 13 comes out in less than a week. The Sooners will be one of the top teams in the game with a 97 rating but it could be interesting to see which players, er, numbers have deserving ratings for their real-life counterparts. Hard to believe No. 12 -- Landry Jones -- won’t be the highest-rated Sooner.

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With Carl Blair's decision to leave the program, Oklahoma is left without a returning backup for starting point guard Sam Grooms.

Spring signee Isaiah Cousins (Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon) could fit the bill. At 6-foot-4, Cousins could bring excellent size to the position behind Grooms, who is listed at 6-foot-1.

“He’s very good off the dribble, very good at creating for others, he has good size at the point guard spot,” OU coach Lon Kruger said recently. “Sam is the only point guard we have returning so it’s good he can step in and play there.”

Cousins picked OU over offers from Virginia Tech, Xavier, Dayton and Rhode Island. He brings the versatility to play point guard and shooting guard. The Sooners already have Steven Pledger returning at shooting guard along with incoming freshmen Buddy Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak at that position, making point guard a perfect fit for Cousins.

[+] EnlargeLon Kruger
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiOklahoma coach Lon Kruger is excited about his new point guard Isaiah Cousins
Carl Blair, Grooms’ backup last season, elected to leave the program after his junior season and is likely headed to Prairie View A&M.

Two-sport standouts?

Incoming freshman football players Gary Simon and Charles Tapper didn’t leave their excellence on the football field during their prep careers. Both Oklahoma signees were standouts on the basketball court after spending the fall on the gridiron.

Tapper starred as a power forward for Baltimore City College High School and spent a portion of his career playing AAU basketball alongside Aquille Carr on the Baltimore Elite AAU team.

Simon was named player of the year while averaging 18.4 points per game for St. Petersburg (Fla.) Gibbs as a senior. He’s said he would like to play basketball at OU.

Sooners basketball coach Lon Kruger would welcome the duo with open arms but is uncertain if either player will join his squad this season.

“[We’re] not sure,” Kruger said when asked if they would join his squad after football. “We heard a couple of them had interest in coming out and if that works out, great. We love people that play more than one sport.”

Greener pastures?

More than 400 players have elected to transfer since the end of the college basketball season in early April.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger isn’t too surprised by all of the transfers nationwide.

“I think it’s a statement on society in general,” Kruger said. “If you look at young people, they’re changing summer AAU teams all the time. It used to be that freshmen go in, and it’s going to be a matter of time, they pay their dues.

“Kids don’t think like that today. They go in right now and if they aren’t playing the role they want to, they’ll go somewhere else to play that role. Often times I think it’s a reflection of young people not making a decision on a college for all the right reasons.”
You see it all the time at the college level. Head coaches leave and the recruits or players on campus start to explore other options. But you don’t see it too often at the high school level. And you normally don’t see a top prospect considering such a game-changing move this late in the recruiting season.

However, that is exactly what point guard Stevie Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) is considering following the departure of Oklahoma City Douglass coach Terry Long.

Clark, who is 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, is a four-star prospect ranked No. 57 in the ESPN 60 for 2013. But he is contemplating graduating early from high school and enrolling in college in the fall. The news was first reported by NewsOK.com.

Stevie Clark
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comPoint guard Stevie Clark is the top junior basketball player in the state, but he might reclassify and enroll in college in the fall.
The junior was offered by Oklahoma in February, and the Sooners are one of his more than 20 offers at this point.

Clark’s mother, Dorshell Clark, said the family has checked with Oklahoma City Douglass to make sure he has all of the necessary credits to graduate early. Clark has a 4.0 GPA. She has been on top of making sure her son is eligible with NCAA Clearinghouse guidelines for a long time. Clark has been a prospect to watch since his freshman year when he received his first offer. He is the No. 1 in-state prospect in the class.

“Right now it’s a real possibility,” Dorshell Clark said. “It was a shock to me as well, but I will support my son with whatever he chooses to do.”

With his academics in order, the next question becomes athletics. Do any of Clark’s top schools have room to add him to their 2012 class?

The Sooners do not have an open scholarship for Clark and have already signed three guards for their incoming class: Je'lon Hornbeak (Arlington, Texas/Grace Prep), Buddy Hield (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) and Isaiah Cousins (Mount Vernon , N.Y./Mount Vernon).

Some of the other schools on Clark’s list are in the same position. Dorshell Clark has reached out to some of the schools and the answer seems to be consistent. No school has said no at this point, but it might be tough to make the pieces fit.

“I called Coach [Lon] Kruger, and he was out of the country,” Dorshell Clark said. “I should be talking to him soon.”

Dave Telep Stevie is one of the top deep-shooters in the country. His range and consistency are high level. The biggest adjustment from high school to college will be the advancement of his passing game and development of a secondary offensive weapon like a floater. He's talented enough to make the move early but would be best served playing in a multi-guard front to ease the transition.

-- ESPN.com senior basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep on Stevie Clark.
Long’s departure is a huge blow, but it wasn’t necessarily a huge shock. Long accepted a head coaching job at Mustang, Okla., last week. Oklahoma City Douglass is a Class 4A school, while Mustang is 6A, the largest classification in the state. Long had already tried to leave Oklahoma City Douglass earlier in the spring. He was a finalist for the job at Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe, one of the premier basketball programs in the state.

Even before Long officially left, it has been a tough situation for Stevie Clark and the Clark family to do deal with because they are such good friends with Long and his family.

“He’s got to do his thing. I understand that, but he means a lot to me,” Clark said two weeks ago at the OKHoops.com Invitational in Oklahoma City. “He has been a lot more than just a coach for me.”

Clark averaged 25 points and 11 assists per game in helping lead Oklahoma City Douglass to its third consecutive state championship.

It wasn’t until February that Clark and the Sooners got on the same page. Miscommunication had each side believing there was not mutual interest. Once that got cleared up, though, Clark and OU have quickly developed a strong bond. He attended several of OU’s final home games and Kruger visited Clark at Oklahoma City Douglass to watch him play. Clark said he likes the direction Kruger is taking the program.

He also has offers from Florida State, Oklahoma State and Connecticut, among numerous others.
Immediate impact of Ryan Spangler's addition to Oklahoma’s mens basketball program is easy to see:

The Sooners have one more scholarship player on campus heading into 2013-14.

[+] EnlargeRyan Spangler
Robert Johnson/Icon SMIRyan Spangler will be able to contribute for the Sooners in the 2013-2014 season.
While that sounds like a simple analysis, one glance at OU’s roster shows the observation goes much deeper. The Sooners ended the season with six scholarship juniors including forward Romero Osby, guard Steven Pledger and guard Sam Grooms.

In other words, OU’s roster will be gutted after the 2012-13 season.

And Spangler, who chose to leave Gonzaga after one season and will be a sophomore, will be poised to step right in and become a core member of the 2013-14 squad. A former Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year from Bridge Creek, Okla., Spangler averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 22 games for Gonzaga but wanted to play closer to home.

"It's always extra special to have in-state guys as part of the OU program," said Kruger, "Although Ryan enjoyed his time at Gonzaga we're especially pleased that he's returning home to be a Sooner. He's a very natural rebounder, a tough guy on the boards and has an ability to score inside and outside. Ryan's work ethic will allow him to make great strides during his redshirt season."

Spangler is likely to join Amath M'Baye, Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal as the foundation of the 2013-14 team after he sits out this season. Incoming freshman Buddy Hield, Je'lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins will also be battling to contribute. Spangler joins fellow 2012 spring signee D.J. Bennett">D.J. Bennett as the lone post players amongst that group.

At 6-foot-8, 232 pounds, Spangler is a versatile big man who should earn significant playing time immediately and become a core member of OU’s post rotation. He’s an efficient scorer who can shoot and prefers to face up and use his athleticism against defenders.

Having Spangler spending a season learning Kruger’s expectations cannot be overlooked. And having another 6-foot-8 post player already in the fold will change Kruger’s recruiting approach. While OU will still need to recruit additional size, the need is lessened by Spangler’s (and Bennett’s) presence.

Overall, the addition of Spangler to the Sooners’ roster is a great development for OU. He’ll help immediately as a sophomore in 2013-14 and don’t be surprised if he develops into a double-double player (double figure points and rebounds) during his career in crimson and cream.
Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. It’s judgement day for Ryan Broyles. The former Oklahoma receiver holds his Pro Day today at 10 a.m. CT and is expected to run the 40-yard dash and run routes for NFL scouts. Broyles was slated to be a second or third round pick before the injury and is looking to prove to NFL teams that he is ready to make an immediate impact on Sundays. It has been a quick recovery after his ACL injury last November and it’s hard to believe Broyles won’t have success in the NFL; he’s the type of guy who make the foundation which championships are built upon.

2. Unless something unexpected happens, it appears Ryan Spangler will leave Gonzaga to transfer to OU. Orginally from Bridge Creek, Okla., Spangler is a big body with excellent athleticism and offensive skills. If he does end up in Norman he should become an impact player as soon as he becomes eligible in 2013. Spangler, who was not offered by Jeff Capel’s Sooner program before Lon Kruger took over, is set to visit OU this weekend.

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Lon Kruger’s approach on the recruiting trails has made it clear Oklahoma men’s basketball coach wants options in the backcourt.

OU added another versatile guard to the roster with the signing of Isaiah Cousins (Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon) on Wednesday. A 6-foot-4 combo guard, Cousins is a two-star prospect on ESPN.com who picked the Sooners over offers from Xavier, Virginia Tech, Rhode Island and Dayton.

Cousins fits the mold of fellow 2012 signee Je'lon Hornbeak as a guard who can play point guard or shooting guard.

"He has played a lot at the off (-guard position), he's played a lot at the point,” Kruger said in a release. “He's a guy who will come in here and make good plays for his teammates. Everyone will enjoy playing with him. He loves to play, he's a good competitor and he has a really high desire to get better and be as good as he can be."

Most importantly, he should provide depth and fit into the hard-working mentality Kruger continues to try to build the program upon.

“He's the ultimate gym rat,” said Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino who has coached at the school for the past 18 years. “Isaiah is probably the most improved player I've coached in my tenure at Mount Vernon.

“He's always had a great work ethic, but something just clicked in the last year, and as a result, his talent just escalated off the charts. He got better and better and became a dominant force in our games. He only knows how to play at one particular level and that's hard. Isaiah takes no plays off and he works equally hard on both ends of the court."

Cousins joins Hornbeak, Buddy Hield and invited walk-on C.J. Cole as newcomers to the program next fall.
Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. Lon Kruger earned a commitment from guard Isaiah Cousins, a 2012 prospect, on Wednesday. Since lack of depth was a primary reason for the Sooners' struggles this season, gathering as many talented players as possible has been the goal for Oklahoma’s first-year coach. Cousins brings good size at 6-foot-4 and 186 pounds and will join signees Je'lon Hornbeak and Buddy Hield in the battle for minutes in OU’s backcourt. Don’t expect a huge immediate impact from Cousins, a two-star prospect, but he could give Kruger another option in the backcourt next season.

2. The accolades for Trey Metoyer continue to roll in. Coach Bob Stoops called the freshman receiver “special” during a radio interview on Wednesday matching up with the consistent praise Metoyer has received from teammates and coaches since stepping on campus in January. At this point it’s safe to say Metoyer will be a contributor to the Oklahoma offensive attack this fall.

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Nobody questioned the effort of the Oklahoma basketball team in its first year under coach Lon Kruger. Though the results weren’t always there, the Sooners gave everything they had in every game.

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Cousins
AP Photo/Mike GrollGuard Isaiah Cousins picked the Sooners over Xavier, Virginia Tech and South Carolina, and others.
Discipline wasn’t the problem but scoring was a concern and has been the target of OU’s 2012 class. Already with two shooting guards signed, OU has its third shooting guard in the class.

Guard Isaiah Cousins (Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon) committed to the Sooners on Wednesday, high school coach Bob Cimmino confirmed.

Cousins, a two-star prospect, is 6-foot-4 and 188 pounds. He also has offers from Xavier, Virginia Tech and South Carolina, among others. Xavier, Virginia Tech, Dayton and Connecticut were the other schools in his top five.

Kruger and assistant coach Lew Hill visited Mount Vernon High last week and Cousins visited OU this week. Hill is a graduate of Mount Vernon.

Cousins had some early offers and could have signed, but he decided to wait because he felt more schools would enter the chase. He was right as Cimmino said the interest for Cousins picked up almost overnight.

Shooting guards Je'lon Hornbeak (Arlington, Texas/Grace Prep) and Buddy Hield (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) have already signed their letters of intent for the Sooners.
The biggest weakness on Oklahoma’s team in Lon Kruger’s first season was its lack of depth. The starters had to play big minutes and didn’t have to fight for their time on the court, which is the ideal situation when trying to build a winner.

“We didn’t have the threat of minutes -- there’s got to be some risk involved,” Kruger said. “They wanted to do it, they wanted to be more physical but a lot of times it’s get it done or come sit over here.

“This year it was get it done... or try again next time. That’s not the way you want to do it.”

With transfer Amath M'Baye becoming eligible and signees Buddy Hield and Je'lon Hornbeak joining the squad, OU’s depth should improve and competition for minutes should increase.

“That’s human nature,” Kruger said of the threat of less minutes changing the overall competitiveness on the team. “We all react to that.”

Q&A: OU basketball signee Buddy Hield 

January, 25, 2012
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Shooting guard Buddy Hield (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) cannot wait to get to Oklahoma. Not only will it be a culmination of a journey that started in the Bahamas, but he has a certain recognition that makes him proud.

No matter what happens, Hield, 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds and ranked No. 3 in Kansas, is always going to be known as the first recruit of the Lon Kruger-era for the Sooners.

He committed in September and signed in November and said everything is on schedule for him to be at OU next season.

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Buddy Hield hoping to start legacy at OU 

November, 10, 2011
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Two years ago, Buddy Hield (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) was living in the Bahamas wondering what the future had in store for him.

Wednesday, his future became clear as Hield signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Oklahoma.

“This means a lot to me,” Hield said. “I’ve gone from just being an international student from the Bahamas to being with OU. I never imagined this. It is a dream.”

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