HOUSTON — Frank Booker came to Oklahoma with a reputation.
Booker hit 99 3-pointers as a high school senior at Westside High School in Augusta, Ga. He averaged nearly 28 points per game.
There was no doubt Booker was recruited as a shooter.
While the Sooners would much prefer to have time to ease the freshman guard into things more, they need Booker to be more than just an occasional sharpshooter.
Going into Saturday night's game against Texas A&M at Houston's Toyota Center, the Sooners are short on depth.
Lon Kruger is using an eight-man rotation with the loss of Je'lon Hornbeak to a foot injury last week.
Booker is the only true guard in the three-man bench crew, though forward Tyler Neal can play the guard spots if needed.
“Oh, definitely,” Booker said when asked if he is putting more pressure on himself with Hornbeak out. “I feel like I have to step up, not just as a 3-point shooter but as a defensive player.”
In the two games since Hornbeak's injury, Booker is 4 of 13 from the floor, hitting 2 of 7 from behind the 3-point line, for 11 points.
After playing a season-high 26 minutes against Tulsa, he played 17 in Tuesday's win over UT Arlington.
“He's got pretty good instincts as a player,” Neal said. “I really thought that when he first got here. Obviously he's a great shooter — that's his No. 1 thing. He'll get in there and rebound a little bit and he'll scrap a little bit on defense.”
Booker's shot has plenty of progress to make.
He's played in all but one game for the 10-1 Sooners and is shooting just 14 of 47 from the field (10 of 36 from behind the 3-point line).
The answer to turning that around is simple, Booker said.
“It's just knowing that I can hit shots,” he said. “I've been missing that. I've got to get more consistent in what I'm doing. I've made some good steps, not just shooting the ball but driving, kicking and doing other things like offensive rebounding.
“I've got to knock down open shots more and just be ready when the passes come to me.”
Once those shots start falling, Neal said, they'll have an even bigger impact for the Sooners.
“We want him to step up and be confident knocking down those threes,” Neal said. “We know he can do it. He's a great shooter. He's going to get a lot of open opportunities. Not only that but people will start seeing that and shading his way and leave things open other places.