NORMAN — With his eyebrows raised and speaking through a half-smile, Romero Osby's voice rose two levels. He was messing around with teammate Sam Grooms like they were two best friends on the playground at recess.
That's Romero Osby — a big kid at heart. Except there was a time in his college basketball career when he was just an immature kid, when he thought everything would come easy and things would just go his way. That was during his two years at Mississippi State.
During his years as a Sooner, Osby has grown from a kid to the father of a kid. He has become a leader and a big, but stern, brother to his teammates. In his final home game, which comes Wednesday at 8 p.m. against West Virginia, he'll be all business on the court. There's a time and a place to be serious — and to be a kid.
When Osby was turning 17, he said he weighed a lot of options. Go to Kansas and play for Bill Self? Go to Louisville and be with Rick Pitino? Sit the bench at both? Or go to Mississippi State and contribute right away? He chose Mississippi State.
“I was a kid expecting to play ball and thinking everything was going to be easy,” he said. “Not as far as on the court, but life would be easy.”
But that's when he got a wake-up call. He wasn't playing as much as he thought, and basketball and life started to change.
“My life was just different because basketball was different,” he said. “That really made me kind of be different. That really made me kind of be stubborn sometimes. I wouldn't really listen anymore because things weren't kind of going my way ...”
Osby's wife, Shalonda, who was his girlfriend while he was at Mississippi State, said he became “boxed up” and he felt like his dreams were “slipping away.”
Nothing was forcing him to mature. He was a 45-minute drive away from his home in Meridian, Miss. Coaches weren't saying what they wanted from him, according to Shalonda, and things on the team, which Romero declines to go into detail about, just weren't good.
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Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
*When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
*Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
*TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28/HD 721; Dish 144; DirecTV 209; U-Verse 606/HD 1606)
*Radio: KOKC 1520 AM
Three things to know
*This is the first time in Big 12 Conference history that two teams have met three times in one regular season. Oklahoma won both of the previous meetings.
*Oklahoma has scored at least 72 points in its last seven games.
*The Mountaineers rank eighth in the league in scoring (61.1 ppg) and eighth in field-goal percentage (.404).