NCB On The Trail: Oklahoma Sooners

Minneapolis Nike EYBL recap 

May, 25, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS -- The fourth session of the Nike EYBL gave teams one more opportunity to add league wins and earn the right to participate in the Peach Jam that will crown a champion in July.

Check out some of the many terrific prospect performances we witnessed this weekend at the EYBL:

Recruit and return: Oklahoma 

March, 20, 2014
In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Oklahoma and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:

G: Jordan Woodard
G: Isaiah Cousins
G: Buddy Hield
F: Dante Buford
F: Ryan Spangler

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When it comes to basketball bloodlines it doesn’t get much better than the ones Oklahoma-bound big man Khadeem Lattin (Houston, Texas/Redemption Christian Homeschool Academy) has.

His mother, Monica Lamb-Powell, played next to Cheryl Miller at USC before a long professional career that began abroad before ending in Houston, where she helped the Comets win three consecutive WNBA titles from 1998 to 2000.

Lamb-Powell met Khadeem’s father, Clifton Lattin, when growing up in Houston. Clifton went on to play NAIA ball and then professionally in Italy.

Clifton’s father and Khadeem’s paternal grandfather, David Lattin, was the starting center for the Texas Western team that famously defeated Kentucky for the 1966 national championship. Lattin went on to a professional career of his own in both the NBA and ABA.

That 1966 national championship game is considered by many to be the most important college basketball game ever. Played at the height of the civil rights movement, Don Haskins’ Texas Western team was the first to start five black players, while Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky team was 100 percent white, as were the game officials, coaches and the vast majority of the spectators.

In 2006, Disney’s “Glory Road” told Texas Western’s story to a new generation of Americans, while Lattin authored his own account in “Slam Dunk to Glory," a book which was published in 2007, the same year that the entire 1965-66 Miners team was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Prior to arriving at Texas Western, David Lattin made a name for himself coming up the ranks in Houston, the same area in which his grandson is now paving his own path.

[+] EnlargeDavid Lattin
AP Photo/Gerry BroomeHall of Famer David Lattin (right), the star player on Texas Western's historic 1966 national championship team, is the grandfather of Oklahoma forward commit Khadeem Lattin.
“The city was quite different. The whole city was segregated. The white players didn’t play with the black players,” David Lattin said. “We didn’t even know we were being segregated, though. We were just out there having fun playing basketball. Now everything is integrated, but it is important for everybody to understand that it was different because the time was different.”

While Lattin recalls only one game at the local Jewish Community Center when the city’s best young players, both black and white, played together, he says there were typically only three or four places in the entire city where he and his peers could play.

“Houston is such a huge city that the competition is more spread out now. It’s tough to get all the city’s great players in the same gym, so it’s different for him,” he said of his grandson. “Khadeem would never even think about the black kids and the white kids not playing together and not going to school together.”

While Khadeem Lattin says he knows his grandfather’s story “front and back for the most part,” the total depth of the journey is likely too much for any youngster to understand unless they are able to process it over a long period of time.

“Not really,” David answered when asked if he ever sat his grandson down and detailed all of the challenges he saw in his day. “It would be very difficult to give it all to him at once. He saw the movie and read the book ["Slam Dunk to Glory"] and we talk about it a little bit as we go.”

One thing that they do frequently talk about is Khadeem’s game and the steps he continues to take in his own development. They’ve watched tape together since Khadeem was in middle school, breaking down his game, with Khadeem trying to learn from his grandfather’s wisdom. David has also taken a strong interest in his grandson’s physical development.

“He helps keep me healthy,” Khadeem said. “He’s my dietitian. He was one of my early weight trainers. He keeps himself in perfect shape and has a lot of knowledge to share.”

While Khadeem is at least three inches taller than his grandfather, his game is much more perimeter-oriented. He spent a year at the Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain, where he played both forward positions and further developed his face-up game. Khadeem is well known for his size, length, athleticism and defensive ability. Now, his emphasis is on adding that same level of power and assertiveness inside the paint that his grandfather was known for.

“We talk a lot about concentration,” David said. “We’re trying to get him to rebound more right now. Even though he’s 195 pounds, that has nothing to do with rebounding. You can still rebound at 195 pounds. He had 18 [rebounds] the other night, so I was proud.”

Rebounding, and basketball as a whole, was more about mindset and personality for David, and that’s something that Khadeem is working to emulate.

“He helps give me a killer mentality, because he was just a complete bully,” Khadeem said. “That’s the biggest thing is that he just helped to change my mentality so I can be more of a bully like him, more of a ‘get after it’ type of player, no excuses and hard-nosed.”

[+] EnlargeKhadeem Lattin
Courtesy of Andrew ShurtleffWhile it'll be tough, Khadeem Lattin wants to eventually be the most decorated member of his family.
Khadeem isn’t just pushed by his grandfather; his mother is also an active participant. In fact, he jokes that his mother frequently reminds him that she averaged 32 points per game as a senior while his grandfather reminds him that he pulled down 20 rebounds per game (David actually averaged 29 points, 19 rebounds and 13 blocks per game as a senior).

“What I’ve tried to explain to him is that if you’re going to have those numbers you have to be busy,” David said. “There’s no time to rest during the game. You have to be in condition, you have to be able to run and get there, you have to always be thinking in terms of how you can best help your team win, whether it’s more rebounds, more blocks, or more points -- whatever it takes to win.”

While David continues to push his grandson at every opportunity, he’s also clearly conscious of letting him be his own man. He didn’t interject a strong opinion in Khadeem’s recruiting process and said “I’m happy wherever he is happy” with regard to his decision to play at Oklahoma.

What Khadeem and David both ultimately seem to know is that Khadeem’s future will be one of his own making. While most youngsters in his position might consider the expectations surrounding his bloodlines to be a burden, Khadeem makes no secret of the fact his goal is to surpass them all.

“Honestly, my grandfather being who he is and my mom being who she is, I want to out-do both of them. I just want to do better and they want me to do better,” he said. “They’re both competitors, and that’s what I appreciate most about both of them.”

“I’m excited. I talk about him all the time,” David said. “My criticisms are always because I just want to make him better, but he’s got to want to do it. I keep telling him that. He’s going to have to decide how good he wants to be. He’s got the talent -- the sky is the limit for him -- and he’s improving, so I’m excited.”

Scout's Take: Dante Buford to Oklahoma 

November, 7, 2013
ESPN 100 power forward Dante Buford (Greenville, S.C./Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla.) committed to Oklahoma over finalists South Carolina and Miami (Fla.) on Thursday, giving Sooners coach Lon Kruger his second ESPN 100 commitment. Buford, ranked No. 63 overall, joins power forward/center Khadeem Lattin (No. 96, Houston/Redemption Christian Homeschool Academy) in the class for the Sooners.

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Scout's take: Khadeem Lattin to Oklahoma 

October, 24, 2013
ESPN 100 center Khadeem Lattin (Houston/Redemption Christian Homeschool Academy) committed to Oklahoma on Thursday over finalists Texas and UCLA.

It's huge for coach Lon Kruger and his staff to land the No. 96 player in the country from the talent-rich state of Texas and Houston, a place the Sooners have made a priority in recruiting.

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Scout's take: Joe Burton to Okla. State 

October, 21, 2013
ESPN 100 SF Joe Burton (Porter, Texas/Luthern North) has committed to Oklahoma State over Oklahoma and Oregon. Burton's commitment means the Cowboys and coach Travis Ford now have two ESPN 100 prospects in the fold, including SG Jared Terrell.

Let's break down Burton's decision and what it will mean to Oklahoma State:

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NM State adds 7-foot-3 Tanveer Bhullar

July, 17, 2013
Class of 2013 center Tanveer Bhullar (Toronto/Father Henry Carr) committed to New Mexico State on Tuesday night, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.

The 7-foot-3 Bhullar is the younger brother of 7-foot-5 Aggies sophomore center Sim Bhullar.

"It felt like family there, because I know half of the people on the team," Bhullar told the paper. "Other schools showed interest, but I wanted to end it early. I'm happy that I'm committed and ready to head down to school and get ready to play basketball."

Bhullar also had interest form Oklahoma, Oregon , Wichita State and New Mexico.

2016 SF Kegler a matchup nightmare 

July, 14, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Most young players are good at two things: taking the ball to the basket and/or knocking the down the 3-point jumper. But in the case of ESPN 25 small forward Mario Kegler (Jackson, Miss./Callaway), his ability to hit his mid-range jumper is what makes his game special. And he's been proving that this week at the adidas Invitational.

"Mario can get his own shot in the mid-range areas at will. He is a tough matchup," said AAU coach Omhar Carter of MBA Hoops.

Many high-major college programs feel the same way about Kegler, who already has offers from Ohio State, UCLA, St. John's, UNLV, Oklahoma and Texas and is receiving strong interest from Duke and others.

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Oklahoma basketball lost its only Class of 2014 commit Monday afternoon when three-star power forward Jacob Hammond (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) said he has decommitted from the program.

Hammond, who is 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds, had been pledged to the Sooners since August and has been pursued by Lon Kruger and rest of the OU coaches since before his sophomore season.

Now other schools from across the country are starting to enter the mix, and Hammond said he wants to make sure he is making the right decision.

“I still like OU, but as of recently, I have had a lot of interest from schools in the Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and schools on the West Coast so I want to make sure that I am making the right choices,” Hammond said in a text message.

Hammond maintained a solid relationship with the OU coaches this last season despite transferring from playing in nearby Oklahoma City to Sunrise Christian, just outside of Wichita, Kan.
The Oklahoma basketball coaching staff knew what it needed to pursue this winter. The Sooners need more offensive firepower, need more scoring going forward.

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Randle trims NC State and Oklahoma 

March, 8, 2013

ESPN 100 No. 3 overall prospect Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian) has cut NC State and Oklahoma from his list of finalists,'s Dave Telep has learned.

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Julius Randle will announce on March 20

March, 5, 2013

ESPN 100 power forward Julius Randle (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) announced on Monday night he will make his college decision on March 20.

The senior will announce at 1 p.m. ET, with the decision expected to come on ESPNU.

Randle has visited all six schools on his list, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky and NC State.

Randle led Prestonwood to a Texas private school state title over the weekend.
Not every top basketball prospect signed with a school in the fall. Some needed a solid senior season to open up even more eyes.

Case in point is three-star shooting guard Frank Booker (Augusta, Ga./Westside). Booker had some offers heading into his senior season. He didn’t make a decision, believing bigger and better things would be coming his way.

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ESPN 100 Julius Randle to miss three months 

November, 26, 2012
ESPN 100 power forward Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian) is expected to miss three months of his high school season after fracturing his right foot, according to a report in USA Today.

Randle suffered the injury during Prestonwood's game against Duncanville on Nov. 24. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday.

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Cyclones land junior PG Clay Custer 

November, 19, 2012
Iowa State nabbed its first 2014 recruit on Monday night when point guard Clay Custer (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest) announced his verbal commitment.

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