One of the best seasons in Oklahoma Sooners history is in the books. An elite senior class spurred the fifth Final Four run, but the next run in the NCAA Tournament will be found on the recruiting trail. With the games over for seven months, Oklahoma turns its focus to the Class of 2017.
This is not Oklahoma’s official target board but an idea of who the Sooners are looking at. Here’s a look at what the Sooners are looking at heading in April and the off-season:
Signed (4): Oklahoma has its four-man class signed for 2016, and Matt Freeman is already on campus. Transfer Austin Grandstaff, who was one of four players to leave Ohio State in the last four months, is on campus as well, and both players practiced with the Sooners during the second semester. Kristian Doolittle, Kameron McGusty and Darrion Strong will join the team in June.
What’s left (1): The class seems pretty full, but the Sooners aren’t quite done yet. Now, that doesn’t mean there’s a guarantee of adding anyone to the 2016 class either. Oklahoma is still keeping its eyes open, but it would have to be the right player – likely a graduate or junior college transfer in the post who could help immediately.
Point guard (1)
Committed (0): None yet but this has been the high-profile focus of the 2017 class.
Favorite: Norman North (Okla.) guard Trae Young. The focus is all on Young at this point. He would be Oklahoma’s highest-rated commit under current coach Lon Kruger and a centerpiece for the team for four years – if he decided to stay that long. Young is a dynamic offensive player who can score from anywhere but takes great pride in getting his teammates involved. He would be Oklahoma’s starting point guard from the day he steps on camps. Oklahoma assistant coach Chris Crutchfield has built a very tight bond with Young and his father. Crutchfield’s son, Jalen, plays with Young at Norman North. He has been – and will be – key in getting Young’s name on the line. Young has said he hopes to make a decision by mid-summer. It seems like it is up to the Sooners’ to lose Young at this point but Kentucky and Kansas are both right behind Oklahoma. There’s an even bigger handful of schools in contention as well.
Next in line: Keller (Texas) High School guard R.J. Nembhard and Cinco Ranch (Texas) guard Jay Jay Chandler. The four-star duo has made separate trips to Norman, and Nembhard has been twice. The Sooners have been pretty open with recruits about their desire to land Young. Chandler and Nembhard appear to be the next two players on the list. After that, three-star point guard McKinley Wright (Champlin Park, Minn.) has been catching eyes as well.
Committed (1): Harrah (Okla.) forward Brady Manek announced that he became the Sooners’ first pledge to the class of 2017 in the fall and has never wavered from that commitment. Manek surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career during his junior season at Harrah (Okla.). He averaged a double-double while leading the Panthers to the state tournament.
Next in line: If Manek sticks with his pledge and there’s very little doubt that he won’t be an Oklahoma signee, then the Sooners are set on the wing for 2017.
Committed (0): A post player isn’t nearly as high of a priority as point guard, but the Sooners would love to add the right one.
Favorite: Tolton Catholic (MO.) forward Michael Porter. If there’s one reach left in the Oklahoma 2017 class, it’s Porter. He and Young have expressed a strong desire to play together in college, and Oklahoma has come back into the picture despite the Sooners being ruled out by Porter before the high school season started when Porter cut his list to 11 schools. Oklahoma’s run to the Final Four had something to do with the re-emergence, but it has just as much to do with Young. Porter is the No. 5-rated player in the class and is a 6-foot-8 post player that is basically a wing.
Next in line: Champlin Park (Minn.) forward Theo John is coming to Norman for an official visit this weekend. The four-star post received an offer from Oklahoma just a month ago but has caught the Sooners’ eye very quickly. He’s a defense-first, back-to-the-basket forward and might commit before the Sooners have a chance with Porter. Oklahoma wouldn’t be disappointed if it wound up with John.