Oklahoma Signs Juco All-American
NORMAN, Okla. – First-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American point guard Omar Leary has signed a national letter of intent with Oklahoma, announced OU men's basketball head coach Jeff Capel today. Leary will join the Sooners for the 2007-08 season and will have two years of eligibility.
The 5-10, 170-pound Leary, one of 10 first-team juco All-Americans, averaged 14.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.8 steals in 28.6 minutes per game this past season for fourth-ranked Northeastern (Colo.) Junior College. A starter in 31 of his 32 contests, the lefty also shot .482 from the field, .439 from 3-point range (69-for-157) and .796 from the free throw line (82-for-103).
Leary led the Plainsmen to a 34-2 record and a trip to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., where he earned all-tournament honors. With averages of 21.5 points and 5.5 assists over four games (his team went 3-1), Leary was the tournament's third-leading scorer and top assists man. He also went 13-for-30 from 3-point range (.433).
As a freshman in 2005-06, Leary averaged 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals a game for 30-4 Northeastern. He shot .466 from the field, .473 from 3-point distance (44-for-93) and .810 from the foul line (64-for-79).
"I'm very excited about Omar joining our program," said Capel. "First and foremost, he's a very good kid, has great character and is a hard worker. Second, he wins. He led his junior college teams to a combined 64-6 record the last two years and he was a very important part of their success."
Capel continued, "He's a young man who can shoot the ball with range, he has good speed and can change speeds, and I think he has the ability to be a very good leader at the point guard position for us. He'll give us depth at that position and he'll allow us to move some guys to different spots. For example, we can move Austin Johnson off the ball a little bit to see how that works with those two playing together. And there will be other combinations we'll look at."
Leary, who earned honorable mention All-State honors in Oregon as a senior at Portland's Lincoln High School in 2004-05 when he averaged 20.0 points a game, signed a letter of intent with Colorado State last November. When the Rams changed coaches in March, Leary was granted a release.
"He's a super kid and he knows how to lead a team," said Eddie Trenkle, who just finished his first year as Northeastern Junior College's head coach. "He knows how to be a floor general and is a gritty, tough kid who does all the little things for you. Plus, his ability to put the ball in the hole is huge. He really put us on his back at the national tournament. Against No. 1-ranked Indian Hills (Community College), he went on a 12-0 run himself by hitting four straight 3s over a span of about 48 seconds.
"He's one of those kids who is very unselfish and does what's best for the team. Defensively, he gets on you. Because he's not a tall kid, he crawls up into you and makes life hard on you. He's one of those water bugs you hate playing against. In that regard, I think his game is very similar to that of (former OU point guard) Drew Lavender."
Added Trenkle, "Omar's a winner. He doesn't lose very many games and that's what's going to carry him to the next level. With his attitude, he has an ability to just take games. That's what he does the best and I think he'll bring that toughness to Oklahoma."