OU basketball inks 2015 trio

Length and range was a point of emphasis for Oklahoma's three-man class

For Oklahoma’s three men’s basketball signees Wednesday on the early signing day, there was a general feeling of relief.

The Sooners officially added three players to finalize its 2015 class.

Top-rated JuCo center Akolda Manyang (Indian Hills Community College), 6-foot-6 wing Rashard Odomes (Copperas Cove High School) and three-star small forward Christian James (Bellaire High School) all signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.

All are happy to have everything in writing at this point.

“I just finally know what I’m going to be doing next year,” said Manyang, whose cousin Longar Longar played for the Sooners. “That’s why I signed early. I feel really comfortable going to that school.”

“It feels great,” Odomes said. “It takes off a lot of pressure really. It gives me something to work for now, really. … It makes me push myself to work harder. My signing will make me work even harder.”

“It’s kind of like a dream come true,” said James, who is walking a riding a bike every day now after suffering a tibia fracture in early August. “. . . I’ve always wanted to play in the big time.”

James and Odomes immediately congratulated each other on signing on Twitter.

Each player has a chance to step in immediately and contribute to the Sooners as a freshman. Manyang enters a young front court that could still see two players graduate.

“He’ very ready,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said of Manyang playing immediately. “He’s a good athlete, a couple years older. . . . It’ll be nice to get him in here.”

Manyang, who has a 7-foot-4 wingspan, is averaging 15.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks through the first two games of the season with Indian Hill Community College. He said he wants to average a double-double for the season.

“It gives us someone behind the defense,” Kruger said. “We haven’t had that type of shot blocker.”

James and Odomes will add depth to the Oklahoma backcourt, which could lose high-scoring win Buddy Hield if the junior decides to enter the NBA Draft.

Kruger sees a place for each of them.

“All three have a lot of upside, a lot of potential, a lot of energy, enthusiasm,” Kruger said. “They are long rangy guys. We’re excited.”

Odomes, a 6-foot-6 wing, averaged 26.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game last season and was named the Texas 8-5A Offensive Player of the Year.

James, who intends to be playing basketball again in January, is a three-star forward.

Kruger said Wednesday they Oklahoma is done with its recruiting class, which was ranked seven in the Big 12 by Scout.com.

The three-person class calls into question scholarship numbers. Oklahoma currently has one unused scholarship and forward D.J. Bennett graduating makes room for a second. Needing a third, the Sooners would either look for TaShawn Thomas’ immediate eligibility to be granted – and his graduation – or forward Buddy Hield to make the jump to the NBA.

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