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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 23rd, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Oklahoma Sooners


Overall Rank: #48

Conference Rank: #6 Big 12


2005-06: 20-9, 11-5, 3rd

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


How many shooting guards and small forwards can Oklahoma have on the floor at the same time?  The answer very easily could be four or five if new Coach Jeff Capel wants to put his most talented players on the court.  There are options at the point and post positions, but every one of those spots that gets filled, knocks another talented wing to the bench.  Considering the fact that it should take Coach Capel himself until January to figure out the starting lineup, it is probably not worth the effort for anybody else to try and take a stab at it.


Who’s Out: One thing we do know is that the Sooners’ starting five will be without Kevin Bookout, Taj Gray and Terrell Everett.  Bookout and Gray were fabulous players up front and combined to average 25.3 points and 14.6 rebounds.  The next highest on the board department was 3.7 per game and that was from fellow departing guard Everett.  In addition to the rebounds, Everett tacked on 12.7 points and 6.9 assists per contest.  Seldom used Michael Ott has left the program.  With all those departures, it is easy to see why the proven talent is only left on the wings.


Who’s In: Combo guard Bobby Maze will get a shot at running the point.  He has quickness and the ability to run with the new uptempo style of play.  Tony Crocker has the folks in Norman the most excited.  The 6-5 shooting guard needs to become stronger during the offseason, but he has a nice stroke and is a pest on the defensive end.  Crocker could very well be starting right away, if there is a spot for him.  Keith Clark can play many positions, but the 6-8, 245 pounder will see most of his minutes at the four this year, or maybe even the five.  Clark can get on the glass and do the dirty work under the basket or step out and hit the mid-range jumper.  Walk-on Beau Gerber will provide some emergency depth in the paint.


Who to Watch: Austin Johnson started 13 games last year and is one of the options to start at the point.  Chris Walker started seven games before falling out of favor with Coach Sampson and with the regime change comes a new opportunity for Walker to earn minutes.  Michael Neal, David Godbold and Nate Carter anchor the plethora of talented wings.  Sharpshooting Neal averaged 12.4 points per game last year.  Godbold averaged 5.7 points per game in 24 starts and his defense will be tough to keep off the floor.  Carter provided a spark off the bench last year, but is expected to play a bigger role this year.  At 6-6, Carter has the size and strength to play at the four, but would preferably be on the wing.


Final Projection: The only problem with playing Carter at the four is then Coach Capel would need a true five to at least provide a post presence.  The only choice is the disappointing Longar Longar.  After heading to Oklahoma as a much heralded recruit, Longar averaged just 7.2 minutes per game as a sophomore last season.  Sophomore Taylor Griffin showed promise as a freshman and doesn’t lack in the strength department, but at 6-7, he’s undersized to play the five.  Unfortunately for the Sooners, Griffin will be forced to play the five quite a bit.  Despite all the frontcourt concerns, the Sooners have talent.  On the offensive end they will run and size isn’t needed for that, although better shot selection than last year would be helpful.  On the other end of the floor, the guards are a terrific group of defenders.  If they can use that defense to stop the opposition from dumping the ball inside continuously, they’ll be on the bubble come March.  With apologies to Crocker, the projected starting five…


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Austin Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 3.0 points per game

Michael Neil, Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game

David Godbold, Junior, Guard, 5.7 points per game

Nate Carter, Senior, Forward, 6.0 points per game

Longar Longar, Junior, Center, 2.1 points per game

49 Houston » Complete List » 47 George Washington

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