NORMAN — Portia Durrett has been in a similar spot before.
New city, new school, new basketball team. Learning the fundamentals while working toward increased playing time.
This time, though, Durrett isn't ordered during games to serve water to her teammates.
No. 12 Oklahoma continues its nonconference schedule Sunday at 2 p.m., when the Sooners host Marist at Lloyd Noble Center.
The continuing attrition of Oklahoma's roster — it's down to nine healthy players after Maddie Manning's ACL tear last week — means newcomers like Durrett, a junior-college transfer, will likely be needed earlier and more often than expected.
“I think she has a pretty high ceiling,” said OU coach Sherri Coale. “Right now everything's going a little too fast for her. She has to think about everything, and a hesitant athlete is a nonathlete.”
Funny, because as a little girl, Durrett learned to play basketball without restraint against older, stronger males in the park.
“Whoever played at the park, I was there,” Durrett said. “You could always catch me at the basketball court.”
But when she tried out for her sixth-grade basketball team at school, she didn't make it, despite being tall for her age.
“I just felt like I couldn't play in organized basketball,” Durrett said. “I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I basically just wanted to play on the street with the guys.”
Durrett made her seventh- and eighth-grade teams after her family moved, but she never got to play, though, instead becoming a glorified team manager.
“Basically, just sit on the bench,” she remembers of her junior-high hoops experience.
“Get water, help your teammates out. Cheer them on.
“I think about that every day. I've come a long way.”
Durrett focused on honing her skills upon entering high school in Seneca, Ky., and things began to come easier. But she still benefited from her years of playing less-organized basketball in the park.
“That definitely made me tough,” Durrett said. “Going into high school, it definitely opened my eyes. I got a chance to play with bigger guys, and that helped me handle the bigger, stronger girls.”
Because she got a late start in organized basketball, she was never recruited very heavily by bigger, four-year schools as a high schooler.
Instead, she headed to Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tenn., to begin her collegiate career.
Durrett averaged 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds last season, earning first-team All-American honors while leading her team to a top-10 national ranking.
So far at Oklahoma, she's playing about 13 minutes a game, averaging 5 points.
“Her level of instruction at the junior-college level was very, very good, but she had so much to learn coming in, and really didn't have any idea how talented she could be and where her game could take her,” Coale said.
“She got to junior college and began to figure that out, and has just scratched the surface of what she can do.”
NO. 12 OKLAHOMA VS. MARIST
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Cox 68/HD 715)
Radio: KOKC-AM 1520, KREF-AM 1400