OU's next generation: Rashard Odomes

Freshman wing looks to learn before becoming at star for Sooners

Maybe the only thing standing between incoming Oklahoma freshman Rashard Odomes and extensive playing time as a first-year player with the Sooners is high-scoring guard Buddy Hield.

Months ago, Odomes said that his game most-closely resembled Hield’s, and now as Hield ponders whether or not to leave Oklahoma early for the NBA, it would be Odomes who would prosper if his self-proclaimed replica left early – likely becoming the first wing off the bench next season without Hield in the lineup.

Odomes has the numbers to prove that he could step in right away – 25.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game as a senior while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and better than 50 percent from behind-the-arc.

There’s no hesitation in what Odomes wants.

“I’d love for him to come back,” he said of Hield. “I think I would learn a lot of stuff playing behind him. I’m not looking to come in and just be that guy – how Buddy was this year.

“I’m looking to come in and learn stuff behind him coming off the bench. If he comes back, there’s a lot that he can teach me at my position.”

But that would mean much fewer minutes for Odomes, who had penchant for taking over games as a senior at Copperas Cove High School with his skill to the extent that his teammates were caught watching in amazement at times.

“I’m fine with that,” Odomes said of reduced minutes as a freshman. “I’m not looking to come in and be the star. I just want to come in and make an impact in the best way I can.”

One of just two freshmen in the 2015 class for the Sooners, Odomes might be the better served to be an immediate contributor. At the McDonald’s Texas Invitational in Houston, he went on a personal run to bring the Bulldawgs back from a 20-point deficit.

A month later, he did it again against Dallas Madison at the DISD Coca-Cola Classic.

“He’s definitely a player that can come in and contribute right away as a freshman,” said Copperas Cove coach Billy White, who un-provokingly compared Odomes to Hield as well. “If he continues to work and do the things that he needs to do, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be able to come in a contribute right away.”

White hadn’t watched much Oklahoma basketball before this season, but he quickly noticed the finer points of resemblance between Hield and Odomes. He spoke with Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger and pointed out the similarities in the two.

Odomes, who will play either small forward or a stretch power forward at Oklahoma, will start classes at Oklahoma in early June, when he will also have the chance to workout with his future teammates. He’ll play in the Faith 7 All-Star Basketball Bowl, a matchup between the best of Texas and Oklahoma, around that same time in Shawnee.

Odomes has been looking forward to the day he gets to Oklahoma’s campus. White wil be looking forward to the day Odomes returns. He knows that Odomes could come back to the Houston suburb a completely different play.

“He’s going to be 100 times a better play in that month,” White said. “He has that type of ability. Although you see a very good player, he has tons of room where he can grow and get better. With his work ethic and how focused and mature he is now, he’s going to reach that.”

At 6-foot-6 with an undocumented wing span, Odomes has the athletic gifts to thrive in the Sooner’s up-tempo style, where White said Odomes is at his best. Odomes, who said that Kruger thought he could guard all five positions on the floor, has matured during the past year as well, leading Copperas Cove in every workout, every shoot-around and every drill.

What gets Odomes into the game more than and easy bucket or a made shot is rebounding. He said that he prefers to grab a rebound or two early to help him get in the flow. Buckets usually come after that, Odomes said it’s a board that “gets me flowing and into the game.”

If Odomes has his way, he’ll get into the game sparingly in his first season at Oklahoma. He wants Hield to come back. He knows that the Sooners will be better and it will make him better.

Oklahoma can only hope that Odomes turns out to be as close to Hield’s clone as can be.

“He just goes out there and gives it his best,” Odomes said. “Even if scoring’s not going for him, he’s going to work hard on defense and things like that. I’m really like that.”

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