NORMAN — Whitney Hand arrived as an Oklahoma freshman in 2008 from Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas.
That same year, Nicole Kornet began her high-school freshman season at Liberty.
Kornet, now an Oklahoma freshman herself, had looked forward to playing at least one season with Hand before her career-ending ACL tear last week.
Kornet, a 6-foot-1 guard, started her first career game Nov. 30 against Northwestern State (La.) and scored 19 points. For the season, she's averaging 6.1 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Kornet chatted with The Oklahoman after Saturday's practice about Hand's legacy and the team's sudden lack of depth.
Sunday, No. 12 Oklahoma (8-1) hosts Vanderbilt inside Lloyd Noble Center at 2 p.m.
Q: Because you come from the same high school, do you feel a responsibility to carry on Whitney's legacy?
A: I wanted to play with her so bad. We had the one year difference, but she did redshirt a year, so I thought it would be awesome to play with her. That made watching her go down hurt even worse.
But I know how much these fans love her. We come from the same background, so I want to just push harder for her.
Did you know Whitney at all growing up?
I met her freshman year (of high school) because everyone talked about Whitney. I finally got to meet her, and just being in her presence ... Whitney is just a great person. I knew her a little bit, but not much.
When you were in middle school, did you ever watch her play?
I didn't go to Liberty in eighth grade, so I really had no idea coming into it. When I got there, people were saying, “Oh, there's another basketball player that's going to be just like Whitney.”
I was like, “Who is Whitney? I need to meet her.”
How big a deal is Whitney at Liberty Christian?
You walk the halls, and there are Whitney posters. Everyone talked to me, “Oh, you're going to Oklahoma with Whitney?”
Just the person she is, she leaves a mark wherever she goes.
How difficult is practice with only eight healthy players?
We can't do 5-on-5 things, and when we do switch off, there's always two people that have to stay in.
It gets tiring, definitely, but coach knows that and she's been helping us out, and cutting practice a little shorter. It's hard, but we're doing the best with what we've got.
NO. 12 OKLAHOMA VS. VANDERBILT
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
TV: Fox Sports Plus (Cox 68/HD 715)
Radio: KOKC-AM 1520, KREF-AM 1400
Three things to know
*Senior Whitney Hand tore her ACL in the Dec. 6 win over North Texas, leaving OU with just eight healthy players.
*Sophomore Sharane Campbell got her first start of the season against North Texas; the former Star Spencer standout scored 11 points.
*The Sooners lost to the Commodores 78-66 during their Thanksgiving weekend tournament last season.