The Norman Transcript

OU Sports

March 1, 2014

Longer road but worth it for Clark, Neal

NORMAN — College basketball has become a game of instant gratification. More so than any other sport, players are expected to arrive on campus and perform as polished finished products before they ever celebrate their 20th birthday.

When it doesn’t occur, some think there is something wrong.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has been around the game much longer than most and he still sighs when that notion is presented.

“People talk about the one-and-done guys, and if you’re not one-and-done, the initial thought is the guy didn’t get off to a very good start in his college career,” he said. “Most guys aren’t that way. A very small percentage are. There’s nothing wrong with being a four-year guy.”

The Sooners (20-8, 9-6 Big 12) will honor two of them prior to their showdown with No. 24 Texas (21-7, 10-5) at 3 p.m. today at Lloyd Noble Center.

The game will make a huge impact on the Big 12 Conference standings since the Longhorns are tied for second and the Sooners are tied for fourth with just three regular-season games left.

It’s the type of game senior forwards Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal always hoped would be quintessential parts of their careers. All who sign up to play college basketball have that desire.

But Clark and Neal have a common link in that both have experienced the lows before experiencing the highs they have this season.

Neal’s decision to come to OU was easy. He grew up in the shadow of it in Oklahoma City. When former coach Jeff Capel offered him scholarship right before the spring signing period in 2010, the Putnam City West forward committed quickly.

“I always wanted to be part of this program,” Neal said.

Clark was the Sooners’ biggest recruit that year. He was a consensus top 40 recruit out of Sherman, Texas. The expectations Clark carried were enormous.

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