NORMAN — After practice ended Tuesday afternoon and the Oklahoma women's basketball team prepared to leave for Wednesday's game at Kansas State, coach Sherri Coale found sophomore guard Peyton Little and gave her a hug goodbye.
Little transferred from Texas A&M after playing as a true freshman, and NCAA rules stipulate that she must sit out a year and can't go on any road trips with the team.
“Other than not being able to play, obviously, this is probably the hardest part,” Little said. “I love my teammates so much, so it does stink not being able to go on road trips.”
The Sooners are riding a two-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at Kansas State, and although Little won't be there, she will be sending encouraging texts, catching up with her teammates via Skype and taking notes while watching the game on TV.
“We make her every bit a part of this as we possibly can,” Coale said.
Little was a top-25 prospect nationally in the recruiting class of 2012, and narrowed her decision down to Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The Abilene, Texas, native ultimately chose the Aggies, but spent much of her true freshman season regretting the decision, despite averaging 15 minutes, 4.5 points and 1.2 rebounds for Texas A&M.
“My heart was at OU,” Little said. “I was a young kid and I just didn't make the right decision.
“As the year progressed and I was finally able to get a release, other schools had called, but I didn't even want any other schools. I just wanted to come to Oklahoma and play for Coach Coale.”
Coale rarely accepts Division I transfers, but said taking Little was a no-brainer.
“We have taken very few transfers, but we knew her, and we'd fallen in love with her in the recruiting process, and we had thought from the beginning that this was a great fit for her,” Coale said. “She was honest about her experience and about why she wanted to transfer. … Her heart was in the right place, and she really wanted to be here. She's a terrific player, so when those others things line up, it's a no-brain decision.”
Little had another connection to Oklahoma in guard Nicole Kornet, one of her closest friends and a former AAU teammate.
Throughout last season, the two stayed in touch, with Kornet regularly throwing hints about how much she loved it at Oklahoma.
“She caught on quickly,” Kornet said with a laugh. “She just knew that this was the place that was meant for her. People make mistakes.
“It's been awesome. I've loved every second of it. I got my best friend back.”