#32 Oklahoma Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12
Oklahoma proved last season that with the right mix of veteran talent and experience that you can go deep in the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners went to the Final Four before running into a buzzsaw in the National Semifinal against Villanova as the Wildcats crushed Oklahoma by 44 points. This season will require some rebuilding as you don't immediately replace a Buddy Hield or Isaiah Cousins. However, make no mistake about it, the Sooners are going to still be a strong and consistent team this season.
2015-16 Record: 29-8, 12-6
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lon Kruger
Coach Record: 111-57 at Oklahoma, 590-361 overall
Who’s Out:
Buddy Hield was tremendous last season for the Sooners and he was the most valuable player in college basketball. He propelled Oklahoma to the Final Four. Hield also won the Wooden Award and had a 37 point effort in the Elite Eight that allowed the Sooners to upset Oregon that was one for the ages. Despite only scoring nine points in the national semifinal against Villanova, Hield will go down as one of the all-time greats at Oklahoma. Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler will also be very much missed as they combined for 22.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game last season. In addition, the leadership from this trio is something that will be another big time challenge for Coach Lon Kruger and his staff to replace right away.
Who’s In:
Kameron McGusty should make an instant impact at shooting guard for Oklahoma. He is one of the top incoming guards in the country. McGusty also spent his senior year of high school at Buddy Hield’s alma mater, Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas. The ability for McGusty to be able to come in and get his own shot off from the perimeter will be a big difference maker for this Sooners offense. Kristian Doolittle will be given a great opportunity to take over for Ryan Spangler and was the top recruit in the state of Oklahoma for the class of 2016. Doolittle is a top flight scorer and defender that can do it all at both ends of the basketball court. Junior college point guard Darrion Strong, redshirt freshman Matt Freeman and incoming freshman Jordan Shepherd should battle for playing time as well.
Who to Watch:
Senior guard Jordan Woodard will take the baton from Hield and be counted on to carry more of the scoring and leadership load this season. After averaging 13.0 points per game last season, a great target goal for Woodard would be to get to the 18-20 points per game level. That should be fairly easy for Woodard to get done as he shot 45.5 percent from behind the three-point arc last season on just 176 attempts. Junior forward Khadeem Lattin is the other returning starter and is a defensive stalwart down low for the Sooners and will be looking to once again emerge as one of the top defensive players in the Big 12 and the nation. The sophomore class of Christian James, Dante Buford, Rashard Odomes and Jamuni McNeace will look to take on greater roles as well coming off the bench.
Final Projection:
The schedule will definitely test this young Sooners squad during the non-conference play. A trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which was relocated to Orlando and starts November 17th, will be a nice initial test for Oklahoma. This will then be followed by matchups with Wisconsin, Wichita State, Memphis, Auburn and Florida scattered throughout the remainder of the schedule. Fast forward to the Big 12 schedule and Oklahoma will get their shot in Norman against Kansas on January 10th with the return trip to Lawrence on February 27th. Overall, it will be very important for this young team to protect their home court during Big 12 play as the first four of seven conference games are in Norman. If the Sooners can start fast, it will increase the margin for error in the second half of the season as the schedule will be much more difficult. It will take time for this team to gel together, but they will make it back to the NCAA Tournament without much trouble at all.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kameron McGusty, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jordan Woodard, Senior, Guard, 13.0 points per game
Christian James, Sophomore, Guard, 2.9 points per game
Kristian Doolittle, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Khadeem Lattin Senior, Forward, 5.6 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.7 (26th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.1 (156, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (80, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.2 (54, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 10.3 (7, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 42.2 (2, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.2 (89, 4)
Rebound Margin: 2.1 (112, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.5 (91, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.1 (217, 7)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#42 Kameron McGusty
#119 Kristian Doolittle