NORMAN — After finishing second in the Big 12, it’s easy to forget just how young Oklahoma was this basketball season.
The Sooners had just two seniors — one who started and the other who played a key role off the bench — and just one junior, reserve forward D.J. Bennett.
While there’s still plenty of disappointment in how OU’s season ended, with a loss to North Dakota State in its NCAA Tournament opener that followed a loss to Baylor to start the Big 12 Tournament, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future.
A year after losing two-thirds of their scoring and coming back to make the NCAA Tournament, the Sooners are expected to lose just more than a quarter of their scoring going into next year.
Only second-leading scorer Cam Clark and top bench scorer Tyler Neal won’t be back next season.
The guard class that includes leading scorer Buddy Hield, defensive whiz Isaiah Cousins and Je’lon Hornbeak, who averaged a bench-high 18.2 minutes per game, will be juniors.
So will Ryan Spangler, the Big 12’s leading rebounder whose offensive game slipped a bit late in the season.
Spangler figures to improve offensively and will likely have a chance to play more of his natural position next season.
“Ryan inside will get so much more comfortable offensively,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “With the kids coming in, the kids coming back, we’ll get better.”
Spangler’s offensive development — and the three front-court players the Sooners are bringing in —figure to be big pieces in that.
The 3-point shot accounted for nearly 32 percent of the Sooners’ scoring this season.