NORMAN — In a surprising decision, sophomore guard Je’lon Hornbeak informed Oklahoma’s coaching staff on Tuesday he will transfer at the end of the spring semester.
In a statement released through OU, Hornbeak said he was looking for a new start after averaging 5.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists as the Sooners’ first guard off the bench.
“I met with Coach (Lon) Kruger and he was understanding of my desire for a fresh start, “ the statement read. “I appreciate (assistant) Coach (Lew) Hill recruiting me, and all my teammates. That bond is strong. All the coaches are trying to help me get to wherever I want to go. I’m thankful for that. Everyone has been good to me.”
Hornbeak’s decision leaves OU in a tough spot. Jordan Woodard is the starting point guard, but Hornbeak was his backup.
The spring signing period for basketball begins today. OU wasn’t in the market for a point guard or shooting guard until Tuesday.
“We learned about this decision this morning, and even though it’s late in the recruiting game we’ll try to add a player at his position,” Kruger said. “We have an outstanding group returning next season and several talented new players coming in. We’re excited to start the process of building on the success we’ve experienced the last two years.”
The Sooners return starters Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler and Woodard from last season’s 23-10 team. Key reserves are guard Frank Booker and forward D.J. Bennett.
OU signed prep forwards Dante Buford, Khadeem Lattin, Jamuni McNeace back in November.
It now has three scholarships available for next season.
OU will likely look to the junior college ranks to find a replacement for Hornbeak. Kruger said he’s also open to bringing in a transfer from a Division I school, preferably one that can play immediately.
Hornbeak, who is from Arlington, Texas, said he hasn’t decided where to transfer. He will go through the recruiting process again.
Follow me @john_shinn
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.