Richardson says James can do it all

Nacogdoches High School Coach Mark Richardson breaks down the game of his star player and Oklahoma commitment Damion James.

The Oklahoma men's basketball team received their first big verbal towards the 2006 recruiting class from Damion James, a 6-foot-8 forward from Nacogdoches, Texas, last week.

James is considered a top ten player in the country and one of the top two players in Texas. And on Monday, James' high school coach — Mark Richardson — talked about his star player and future Sooner with Bob Barry Jr. and James Hale on the Sports Animal.

JH: Tell us about Damion and what kind of player that he is?

MR: "He is a 6-8 kid that is still growing and weighs about 235 pounds. He is a real nice basketball player. What he brings to your team is a tremendous amount of versatility. He plays a lot of different positions for us and he is just a real complete basketball player. He will be real nice addition and a real nice fit for Oklahoma."

BBJ: When you talk about the fact that he is still growing, do you think that Damion is going to get to 6-10 or 6-11 and still be able to have a perimeter game? Or will he specialize on posting up smaller guys inside?

MR: "One of things that has made Damion different is that he has always played on the perimeter. He hit a growth spurt between his 8th grade year and his 9th grade year, where he grew about five or six inches. He has always played guard, but he grew into a post-mans body. So, that is kind of the way that he plays.

"Even if he grows to 6-10, the way that he plays he can do either one of them. When I first got here he didn't have a post move to his name because he had never played inside before. He sees the game from the outside in, which really makes him difficult to deal with."

JH: How do you see his skills fitting into what Oklahoma likes to do?

MR: "I think he can play at a number of different places on the court, and that is why I think he is a real nice fit for Oklahoma. He can do a lot of those different things, which makes the team more versatile. His overall game makes him more versatile and it helps put W's up on the scoreboard."

BBJ: Describe his game from the standpoint of can he shoot three's really well or can he take people off the dribble?

MR: "He can shoot the basketball, he can post you up and he can take you to the hole. He is a real complete basketball player. You don't get to be one of the top players in the country and not be able to do all those things. He is still getting better every day and every week that I work with him. He just gets better and better, but sees a complete game.

"He passes when he is supposed to pass, shoots when he is supposed to shoot, drives when he is supposed to drive, and one of his biggest strengths is his ability to get to the offensive and defensive glass. He can get a whole lot of offensive and defensive rebounds."

JH: Damion could have gone anywhere in the country in college. Why do you feel he chose Oklahoma?

MR: "Damion just really liked Coach Sampson and he liked Oklahoma. He just liked the way that he played. I think those are the things that went into his decision. When you sit down and make a decision like that those are the things that you are supposed to look at. He looked at those and that is what he wants to do and that is where he wants to go. I think Oklahoma is a great place for him."

BBJ: How was the recruiting process for you?

MR: "I think everything went really well. Everything went through our office simply because there is such an onslaught of recruiting material and information to go through. For him to be able to sit down and express himself and do the things that he needed to do to make his decision — was something that Damion and I sat down and talked a lot about. We went through a lot together."

JH: I am glad that you as his high school coach were involved with his recruiting and not just his AAU coach, which so often happens. You were very much involved in his recruiting weren't you?

MR: "If you know something about the process and you understand a little bit about what is actually going on, then that is good no matter if you are his high school coach, AAU coach or parent. Somebody in that process has to understand some of the things that are going on or the kid has no clue what he is looking at or what kind of situation he is trying to get into."

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