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Oklahoma basketball: Tyler Neal steps up, into expanded role for Sooners

OU SOONERS — His playing time fluctuated as a freshman. But Tyler Neal is taking advantage of the opportunity created by Calvin Newell's transfer and his own shooting touch to make an impact for the Oklahoma Sooners.
By MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Modified: December 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm •  Published: December 14, 2011

Neal, The Oklahoman's 2010 Player of the Year at Putnam City West, has improved every aspect of his game.

“He's just scratching the surface,” Kruger said. “He's making shots right now but in time he'll be able to put it on the floor a little more, attack a little more. He's a smart player who can create shots for others. .... He just needs to keep growing his game.”

That includes being more of a factor on the defensive end.

“He has good size, good anticipation,” Kruger said. “You don't have to be the quickest guy. But at 6-7, you're long and rangy. You can take angles and do things to still get the job done, especially with anticipation.”

Said Neal, “Last year I could jump but (I) had slow feet. Having quick feet is a big part of defense. It's also the mental part, knowing an opposing player's strengths. Having athleticism can cover up passing lanes but I'd like to get to where athleticism is icing on the cake.”

Neal's playing time fluctuated as a freshman under former coach Jeff Capel. Now, as his role expands so will his impact on an OU team off to its second best start in eight seasons.

“I'm always in his ear to be more aggressive because he has crazy athleticism,” said teammate Romero Osby. “That surprises some people. He doesn't even know how explosive he is. He's not anywhere close to tapping his potential, yet. He could be really, really good.”