On Lon Kruger's first day at Oklahoma, one of his forwards stayed late after the meeting.
As the room cleared, Romero Osby walked up to his new coach and said, “Coach, I'll do whatever it takes, but I'm going to be your leader.”
A year and a half later, Osby, now a senior, is the obvious leader of the Sooners. He's the rock. The consistent scorer. The guy who will give advice but doesn't get too much in another guy's ear. The guy who will direct OU in its third conference game of the season at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Texas Tech.
Osby said he learned that from his father and grandfather. His father, Daryl, said Romero was born into it.
Daryl Osby was raised by a man who was independent. He owned his own business, instilled confidence in his son and daughter. Today, James Osby, Romero's grandfather, instills confidence and faith in others as a preacher.
“My dad instilled it in me,” Daryl told The Oklahoman. “And I instilled it in my son.”
Romero was raised in a disciplined household. His father was in the Army when he was born. When Romero was young, Daryl tried to teach him to do things on his own, but said he never really needed to teach very hard. Romero was naturally independent. Once, his dad tried to show him how to play video games on their Sega Genesis.
“I'd try to teach him and he'd just want to do it on his own,” Daryl said. “He'd just start playing. He got better than I did.”
As Romero grew, father and son would watch sports together, and Daryl would use the athletes and the moments to teach his son right from wrong.
Then, when Romero was a sophomore at Mississippi State, his daughter was born. He had a whole new respect for what “being a leader” meant.
“I learned my leadership from becoming a dad,” Romero said. “And from my dad and my grandfather.”
Daryl sees his son taking what was instilled in him and applying it to his teammates.
“I expected that because of the foundations that we set with behavior and being respectful,” Daryl said. “I told him to play this game you'd have to work hard and let your teammates see that you're the last to leave and the first one to be there.”
Most days, Romero Osby is one of the last ones off the court. The last one to stretch out after weights. The last to finish his interviews.
That conversation that he had back in April 2011 with his coach still motivates him this season.
“Coach Kruger looked at me after I told him I wanted to be his leader and he said, ‘I appreciate that, but it's hard to be a leader because you've got to do it every day,' ” Romero Osby said. “I took that as a challenge. I try to come out here every day and work my behind off.”
With Osby leading the way, the Sooners are 11-3 season and 2-0 in the Big 12. The senior forward leads the team in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and blocked shots.
“I want to bring this university back to winning games,” Romero said. “And restore the pride and tradition that everybody is used to.”