NORMAN — Over the past two weeks, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has talked about freshman point guard Jordan Woodard as being a key piece of the rotation this season.
Now, it appears Woodard will be a starter right out of the gate.
The true freshman from Edmond Memorial is listed as a probable starter for the Sooners' 2 p.m. Saturday exhibition game at home against Washburn.
Woodard is the only true point guard on the roster, though Je'lon Hornbeak is expected to spend time at the point as well, and Isaiah Cousins can shift over when necessary.
“He's very quick off the dribble and likes to push it, which fits right in line with what we like to do,” Kruger said earlier this week. “He's a scoring point guard, which we love. He's able to create for others and is very active defensively as well. He has a very good blend of skills that should translate very well into Big 12 play.”
During the Sooners' five-game European tour in August, Woodard started all five games as sophomore guard Buddy Hield sat out with a foot injury.
Woodard averaged 9.4 points, 5.6 assists and 3.0 steals during the trip.
“He knocked down open shots, which is great, he had a lot of assists as well,” Hornbeak said. “It's just becoming consistent. The quicker he can become consistent, the quicker he can help us do good things.”
Woodard also led the Sooners in turnovers on the trip with 20.
“He's going to have some turnovers — everybody has turnovers — and just how to play through it,” Hornbeak said of the things he was trying to teach Woodard. “You're just going to have to play hard.”
As a senior at Memorial, Woodard averaged 15.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He tore his hamstring in the Class 6A semifinals but gutted through it, hitting his only field goal of the championship game on a tip-in as time expired to give the Bulldogs a 49-48 win.
Now, Woodard is being asked to take over the point as the Sooners are trying to turn up the tempo.
“It definitely fits my game,” Woodard said of the fast-paced offense. “I love it. Coach told me when he was recruiting me that that was definitely going to be the style this upcoming season. I'm really excited for it. I feel like it fits our team best, and that's how we're going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Hornbeak knows what Woodard is in for, having been one of three freshman to see significant time at guard last season.
He's tried to prepare Woodard for everything that comes with being a point guard.
“No matter what age he is or classification, as long as you're playing the point guard, you assume some of that leadership role,” Hornbeak said.