Could Romero Osby be Oklahoma basketball's star-in-waiting?
He's been called the Sooners' most talented player. Cade Davis compares him to James Anderson. Yes, that James Anderson.
"I'm not saying he's James Anderson. But he's that type of player," Davis said. “He's built a little bigger. He can post up with his size and how broad he is up top. But he can also step out and shoot 3's from deep. He'll have some mismatches on the wing."
None of that potential does Oklahoma any good Saturday at Missouri. Osby, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound transfer from Mississippi State, is sitting out this season and won't even be in Columbia.
He is, however, in Oklahoma's plans for next season. And if Osby is even close to being as productive as Anderson, the former Oklahoma State star who was 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year, the Sooners should be much improved next season.
"Ro can do a lot of things,” said guard Steven Pledger. “Ro is a driver. He can shoot. He has post moves. Practices are his game day. He goes hard at us all the time.”
Osby averaged only 4.3 points his two seasons at Mississippi State. Part of the low production was he came off the bench. He averaged only 13 minutes a game with the Bulldogs.
"When you don't get as much playing time you're not as confident," Osby said. "Confidence is a big key. But sitting out has helped me work on my game. I'm confident I can help this team. I just try to be dominant in whatever I'm doing."
Osby said OU was one of the programs he considered coming out of North Lauderdale (Miss.) High School. The two-time All-Stater averaged 22.4 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.7 blocks his senior year. That season he posted a double-double in all but one game and recorded one triple double (21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks) in the Division 5-4A championship game.
"I almost came here," Osby said. "It was fun to get that chance to reunite with coach (Jeff) Capel. It's a great program. A lot of great players have come through here. I want to be one of them."
Teammates predict Osby will make an immediate impact.
Point guard Carl Blair said Osby can handle the ball, shoot and post up. Blair, though, has been most impressed by Osby's work ethic.
"He's always in the gym," Blair said. "When one of your best players works that hard that's good. He can shoot but is powerful at the same time. He's well rounded. He's a great player who will help us a lot next year."
Osby refuted teammates' comments that he's the most talented player on the roster.
"I'm playing on the red (scout) team so I can shoot when I want to shoot," Osby said, smiling. "That's a big difference than playing in the system. It's fun. I appreciate my teammates giving me high praise but we have a lot of good players."
Because of his versatility, Osby will create mismatches. If a big man is defending Osby, he can play on the perimeter. If a smaller player is guarding him, Osby can post up and play with his back to the basket.
"He's as good as everybody says he is. He's incredible," Davis said. "He's loving the success we had (during a four-game winning streak). He's anxious to get on the court and help next year. He's going to be fun to watch.”
On an undersized team that starts four guards, Osby said the most difficult part of sitting out is not being able to contribute.
"It's like someone trying to mess with your little brother but you can't do nothing about it. That's kind of what it's like," Osby said. "I want to jump out there and help them."
Next year Osby will help. He will join four returning starters -- freshman guard Cameron Clark and sophomores Andrew Fitzgerald, Pledger and Blair.
"It makes me feel good that I still have two more years left," Osby said. "When I'm a senior Cameron Clark will be a junior and Steven Pledger and Fitz will be seniors. It's going to be a lot of fun. We're going to be a team with a lot of experience."
No. 19 Missouri
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mizzou Arena
Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7
TV: KOCB-34 (Cox 11)
Series: OU leads 112-94
Three things to know:
*Missouri leads the Big 12 in steals (8.8) and turnover margin (+3.7).
*The Sooners are 1-9 away from Lloyd Noble Center.
*The Tigers are 14-0 at home.