NORMAN — Oklahoma expects Cameron Clark to be its leading scorer. Its best rebounder is likely going to be forward Ryan Spangler. The presumptive leader in assists is freshman point guard Jordan Woodard.
Everything else hinges on sophomore guards Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak. Neither of the three enter the season with the expectation of being the best in any particular category. They just have to be good at everything.
They are the pillars OU coach Lon Kruger will lean on this season.
“They have all grown significantly,” Kruger said.
It’s that natural process coaches hope occurs for all players between their freshman and sophomore seasons. The game moves fast and the teachable moments fly at them daily.
They don’t learn from every single one of them, but they catch a lot. In the case of Cousins, Hield and Hornbeak, they played big minutes in big games and in difficult environments.
There were games when each played well and others when none of them did. Those situations create the all-important understanding of what it takes to win and what causes losses.
“Coming out of high school you don’t really know what to expect. And after going through Big 12 basketball for a year you focus a little differently in preparation for the next year with how fast the game is and how big and strong the opponents are,” Kruger said.
OU doesn’t have a ton of players with full comprehension of that. Clark does. He’s a senior who’s been starting off and on since he was a freshman. But he joins senior forward Tyler Neal as the only upper classmen who’ve played for the Sooners.
The sophomore trio has to play with a wisdom beyond their years. They learned a lot from last season.