Basketball Notebook

Sampson goes after the top athletes while the current Sooners play well during the offseason

Recruiting has become a different ballgame for Kelvin Sampson and the Sooner men's basketball staff. Just five years ago the Sooners might be forced to take a lower top 100 talent and forgo the thought of trying to sign the nations elite.

Thanks to a great eye for talent by the Sooner coaching staff, Sampson and company always found gems among that group and slowly a national power was built.

And with last year's Final Four appearance, OU is now recruiting in the high rent district for the first time under Sampson, and the Sooners are being selective in their recruiting.

OU is still very much in the running for 5'7" point guard Andrew Lavender out of Columbus (Brookhaven HS), Ohio and his teammate 6'7" forward Brandon Foust.

The Sooners are up against some tough competition in Cinncinnati and Michigan State, but the OU coaches feel they have a great shot. Both players will visit OU either the second or third week in September, once Coach Sampson returns from his assistant coaching stint with Team USA Basketball.

If the Sooners sign Lavender or get a verbal soon from him they will drop their effort to sign Houston prodcut Tack Minor. OU has never been the first choice for Minor, but he continues to call OU each week.

Getting Lavender is OU's top priority at the point guard spot, because OU feels recent commit Lawrence McKenzie, of Minneapolis, is the real deal. Mckenzie's stock increased this summer as he averaged over 20 points and nine assists per game. McKenzie reminds the OU coaches of Hollis Price, because of his blazing speed up and down the court.

Minor is being recruited as a point, but many feel he is really a wing, which is exactly where McKenzie plays on the court. At this point OU likes McKenzie better, thus, if they can sign Lavender then they have their dream recruiting backcourt.

Just a few years ago the Sooners would be all over point guard Jay Jackson of Monroe, LA., but because the Sooners are recruiting players with a much higher rating they still haven't offered Jackson, despite the fact he is a very good player.

If OU can sign Foust then they will not pursue Cartier Martin out of Houston Nimitz. OU is listed in Martin's top five right now. However, Foust hasn't qualified at this time and OU does hope to bring in Martin. The word is that Lavender will qualify and Foust will have to hustle, but he should make it.

Watch out for 6'11" Larry Turner next year. Word is, he is the real deal. His offensive game needs work, but he is the most athletic big man on the squad and that is saying something when you consider that Jabahri Brown is incredibly athletic. Turner looks like a future NBA talent, according to many in the know at OU.

Matt Gibson has beefed up to 6'9", 220 pounds and is shooting the lights out of the basket. Gibson is a big man that can step out on the wing and hit from 3-point range.

Kevin Bookout looks powerful and good inside and Johnnie Gilbert is having a great summer. Gilbert is traveling with an collegiate team this summer and leading the team in scoring at 19.9 points per game. Quannas White also played very well with a Big 12 team in Europe. Hollis Price has healed up from injuries and will be ready to go when practice starts. Ebi Ere played very well in Michael Jordan's camp.

In all, the Sooners are a pumped program and despite last year's success, they feel the best is yet to come.

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