Jeff Capel addresses postseason turmoil
With four underclassmen already out the door and his program under investigation by the NCAA following the school’s worst season in 29 years, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel spoke publicly for the first time since the season ended, addressing the state of his program.
“There is hope. There absolutely is hope. I’m excited about where we’re going forward to,” Capel said Friday afternoon during a 39-minute press conference a the Lloyd Noble Center. “Sometimes, in order to get better, you have to cleanse. Sometimes you have to lose some things.
“Sometimes things have to fall apart in order for them to fall back together.”
Things have fallen apart around the OU program over the last month.
Capel’s starting backcourt and two leading scorers, Willie Warren and Tommy Mason-Griffin, left school early to turn pro.
Two other underclassmen, Ray Willis and Orlando Allen, have also left the team.
And the OU hoops program is currently being investigated by the NCAA to determine if violations were committed.
A report last month alleged freshman forward Tiny Gallon received a $3,000 wire transfer from a Tampa-based financial adviser, prompting the NCAA investigation. OU is currently on probation until May, stemming from previous incidents.
On top of that, Capel’s top assistant, Oronde Taliaferro, resigned abruptly a week ago; his phone records shielded from The Oklahoman by the university, which noted the records were now part of an investigation. It’s uncertain whether that investigation is connected to Gallon’s.
Friday, Capel wouldn’t address the Gallon investigation or as to why Taliaferro resigned, only saying, “Because a review is in process, it’s not appropriate for me to respond with anything that’s ongoing with the review right now. I do look forward to a point in time when I can talk to you and talk to you in detail about the review. Right now is not that time.”
But Capel did address several other issues with his program, including his diminished roster, which now includes only four scholarship players not counting Gallon.
Capel said Gallon remains in school, but is also considering declaring for the NBA Draft. He has until April 25 to do so.
Gallon has been dealing with a high-ankle sprain, which has prevented him from working out with the team, Capel said.
“I’m not sure what he’s going to do,” Capel said.
At the moment, OU currently has senior guard Cade Davis, sophomore guard Steven Pledger, sophomore forwards Andrew Fitzgerald and Kyle Hardrick on scholarship. Hardrick played a total of four minutes last season. Pledger and Fitzgerald had to work their way out of Capel’s doghouse after being cited for shoplifting.
Capel, however, said he’s been pleased with all four players this offseason, both on and off the court.
“The guys we have coming back are working,” Capel said. “I’m excited about them. There’s already a difference in how we work and how we approach things, than anytime last season. The guys coming in, who we have signed, are very committed to what they have to do and what needs to be done for us to win. And the guys we’re recruiting, they have the same understanding of that.
“We want guys that have two feet in. We don’t want a guy that still has one bag packed and is looking to get out.”
The Sooners have three recruits signed for next season in combo guard T.J. Taylor, forward Cameron Clark and Putnam City West forward Tyler Neal, who signed his letter of intent with OU on Friday.
Capel is still hoping to add at least a point guard to this class, and possibly a center. The Sooners have neither on roster right now. If the season started today, Taylor would likely be the starting point guard.
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