OU's big Bedlam recruiting weekend

Sooners host almost half a dozen recruits for rivalry weekend

Bedlam wasn’t just a big game on the court this past Saturday.

Sprinkled amongst the sellout crowd were nearly half a dozen recruits, one of the largest visit lists of the season. They came from all stages of recruitment.

There was a signee: 2015 forward Christian James, who drove up from his Houston-area home for the first time.

There was a verbal commit: 2016 forward Kristian Doolittle. And a trio of 2017 targets: Brady Manik from Harrah High School, offer-holding Trae Young, a point guard out of Norman North, and Kansas-based, high-rated shooting guard Mitchell Ballock, who is ranked as the 34th-best player in country sophomore class.

Ballock, who said that assistant coach Steve Henson has been watching him since the eighth grade, received an offer just minutes before he and his parents left the campus.

“I wasn’t really expecting,” Ballock said. “ . . . (Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger) explained how nice the community is and how team-oriented the program is and how freely they play. It was pretty cool.”

All five potential Sooners swapped ideas, with James telling Ballock about how much better Oklahoma will be in the coming years and Young and Doolittle discussing the past two matchups they had at Norman North and Edmond Memorial, respectively. Each had pulled off one victory.

James, the oldest of the bunch and the only guaranteed future Sooner, admitted that he did a little bit of recruiting, especially with players that he think could help in the future.

“We just talked about the coaching staff there, the atmosphere there,” said James, who is sitting out his senior season with a broken leg. “We just talked about how OU is starting to get going again. We are going to be pretty good over the next few years.”

Local players like Doolittle, Young and Manik, who was the only recruit in the house without an offer, have been to Oklahoma games before.

Young and Doolittle have each made visits this year. They’d also each seen Bedlam before. Young was a ball boy when he was younger.

There was something different about this time for Young, who visited for the first time as a recruit.

“It’s a great experience,” said Young, who visited ‘Late Night at the Phog’ with Ballock at Kansas. “The crowd gets into it. Those games give me the chills.”

Ballock might have seen Oklahoma again for the second time in two games. He visited Kansas on another unofficial with the Sooners in town for Big Monday and said it was an "intense game."

Ballock, who has offers from Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Creighton and Oklahoma, lives 10 minutes from the Jayhawks’ campus.

“It’s all kind of a shock and surprising,” Ballock said of the recruitment process, which he said has just starting for him. “It’s just cool to have opportunities and options to go to school and do the things you like to do and compete at the next level. It’s pretty cool.”

Each recruit said they took a little time talking with Buddy Hield, who finished a perfect 10-for-10 from the game. They all mentioned that as a high point during the game. Ballock said he might try and visit Iowa State sometime in the next few weeks but wants to come back to Norman in the fall. He wants another taste of the atmosphere in a different sport.

“OU football is no joke,” he said.

Oklahoma put together a pretty impressive visit list this weekend. Some had been to Lloyd-Noble Center before. Others were visiting for the first time.

The Sooners are likely hoping the eclectic mix helps.

“The other recruits, after the game, we talked and hung out,” Ballock said. “They were pretty cool people. They were nice kids.

“It was just cool to get along with those guys and talk to them and get a different perspective with what they were thinking and what they look for and what they think about Oklahoma as a whole and the recruiting process. It was good to talk to them and get their input on how things are.”

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