NORMAN — Rarely does a college basketball program undergo a massive overhaul that features nine newcomers. When practice starts Friday, Oklahoma men's basketball coach Jeff Capel has roughly a month to sort through a revamped roster before the Nov. 12 season opener.
Coming off a disappointing 13-18 season, the Sooners probably won't be as talented as last season but Capel believes there is more talent on the roster than most realize.
Here are five storylines for the Sooners entering camp:
1) Follow Cade Davis' lead: Viewed as the ideal role player, Davis has taken on the leadership role in off-season workouts. OU's returning leader in nearly every category, including points (9.9), rebounds (3.9) and steals (1.5), Davis gives Capel a player to build around. The 6-foot-5 guard from Elk City said the newcomers' work ethic this summer was a night-and-day difference from a year ago when a team ranked No. 17 in preseason lost 10 of its final 11 games in part due to poor chemistry. It's imperative Davis finishes his career with his most productive season.
2) Can Cameron Clark make an instant impact? Clark, an athletic 6-foot-6 wing player is the highest ranked incoming recruit, listed among the top 40 freshmen nationally by ESPN, Rivals and Scout. Clark averaged 23.7 points and 9.0 rebounds at Sherman, Texas. The talented freshman handles the ball well and has the talent to help defensively. How quickly Clark adapts could be pivotal whether the Sooners surprise league coaches who picked them to finish 11th.
3) "Veteran" PG running the offense: Carl Blair, Jr. transferred from New Orleans but the 6-2 point guard is immediately eligible because UNO dropped to Division III. Blair averaged 9.2 points and 3.7 assists as a freshman at UNO. Calvin Newell, Jr., a Philadelphia product, is a combo guard but can play the point. A first-team All-Pennsylvania selection his senior year at Strath Haven, Blair averaged 29.4 points. Last year Newell averaged 26.1 points at a prep school in North Carolina.
4) Competing for minutes: With nine newcomers competition for playing time, especially on the perimeter, could continue through the non-conference schedule. Steven Pledger, a streaky shooter, averaged 6.2 points and must be more consistent. Combo freshman guard T.J. Taylor, a top 100 national recruit who was Denison's all-time leading scorer and Putnam West versatile freshman forward Tyler Neal, The Oklahoman's Player of the Year, are in the mix.
5) Overcome size disadvantage: Sophomore 6-8 forward Andrew Fitzgerald (4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds) is the only returning interior player who logged significant time. Juco transfers C.J. Washington and Nick Thompson will have to contribute. Washington, 6-7, was a first-team Juco All-American who averaged 19.3 points and school record 13.0 rebounds at Connors State. Thompson, 6-9, averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds to help lead Eastern Utah to a third place national finish. Barry Honore, a 6-7 junior forward from Southern, was the Southwestern Athletic Freshman of the Year. Abdul Ahmed is a slender 6-10 forward from London with limited experience.