SPERRY — Sperry forward C.J. Cole always dreamed of being able to play Division I basketball, but he was still a little surprised by the way the opportunity with Oklahoma came about.
“I'm not even sure where OU heard about me or saw me,” Cole said with a laugh. “Just one day at practice, coach (Lance Kight) said, ‘Lon Kruger called about you,' and I was shocked.
“They asked for some film and wanted to come watch practice. Maybe they saw me at a tournament, but I never saw them.”
Before long, Cole had an offer to join the team as a preferred walk-on.
Cole had been putting up good numbers for a while, but he was dominant as a senior, averaging 21.6 points and 16.6 rebounds in helping Sperry to its first-ever state tournament appearance and earning a spot on The Oklahoman's Super 5.
But recruiting always brought some frustration.
“At first, it was all small Division II schools recruiting me,” Cole said. “There was a little bit of doubt that I could make it, but I tried to stay confident.
“I started getting some D-I letters, and then, once Davidson started recruiting me, I started to think that I could make it to a major D-I school.”
With a 34 on his ACT, Cole will use academic scholarships to help pay for his first season, with the opportunity to gain a scholarship in 2013.
And now, he has turned his focus to preparing for the next level. He expects to redshirt next season to develop on his skill set, and maybe even add some weight to his already solid 220-pound frame.
“I definitely want to work on my ball handling and hone my shot in,” he said. “I want to put on 10 pounds. I feel like I have the frame to put on more.”
More than anything, Cole is just thankful for the opportunity to play major college basketball.
“A lot of people didn't think it would happen for me,” he said. “They didn't think I had the athletic ability or the talent. But I made it work somehow. It definitely felt like I had some help from God. It's amazing, and it's something I wouldn't trade anything for.”