Oklahoma lost a key member of its 2016 class on Monday as four-star point guard Payton Pritchard decommitted from the Sooners, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The 6-foot-1 point guard is currently regarded as the No. 46 player in the Class of 2016 national rankings from Rivals and he comes with a considerable scoring arsenal for a lead guard. A native of Oregon, Pritchard represented USA Basketball in the 3×3 World Championships in Hungary this summer and he’s one of the best long-range shooters in the class.
Pritchard was active this spring, playing multiple sessions in both the adidas Gauntlet with Team Fast Elite and the Nike EYBL with Seattle Rotary. With Team Fast, Pritchard poured in 22.4 points a game to go along with 6.4 rebounds and 5 assists. As a member of Seattle Rotary, Pritchard averaged 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 48 percent from the field, 49 percent from 3-point range and 100 percent from the free-throw line.
The Sooners still own a commitment from three-star in-state wing Kristian Doolittle in the Class of 2016, but the loss of Pritchard could be a huge loss. His offensive approach and ability to create offense would have fit nicely in Lon Kruger’s offense. Oklahoma is still in the running for Pritchard’s services, but with the July live evaluation period tipping this week, it will be interesting to see which schools track Pritchard’s games.
Oklahoma is returning a lot of talent to a NCAA tournament team and they’ll be among the top candidates again the Big 12 next season. Before playing in the conference schedule in 2015-16, the Sooners will challenge themselves with many tough opponents. The team announced their non-conference schedule late this week.
Oklahoma starts the season with a road game at Memphis before hosting Wisconsin and playing a neutral site game against Villanova in Hawai’i.
After returning home for home games against Oral Roberts and Creighton, the Sooners return to Honolulu to play in the Diamond Head Classic. The field for that event includes Auburn, BYU, Harvard, Hawai’i, New Mexico, Northern Iowa and Washington State.
“Without a doubt this is one of the most ambitious non-conference schedules we have ever put together,” Kruger said in the release. “But given the experienced makeup of our team, we feel it is appropriate. Our guys are looking forward to the many challenges in non-conference play and have been working hard since the end of last season to give us the best chance of being successful throughout the coming year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Here is what the non-conference schedule looks like for the Sooners.
Nov. 17 at Memphis
Nov. 20 McNeese State
Nov. 24 Incarnate Word
Nov. 29 Wisconsin
Dec. 3 Central Arkansas
Dec. 7 vs. Villanova at Honolulu, Hawai’i
Dec. 12 Oral Roberts
Dec. 19 Creighton
Dec. 22 vs. Diamond Head Classic Honolulu, Hawai’i
Dec. 23 vs. Diamond Head Classic Honolulu, Hawai’i
Dec. 25 vs. Diamond Head Classic Honolulu, Hawai’i
Jan. 30 at LSU
Oklahoma is getting a major overhaul for its men’s and women’s basketball programs as the school announced a $7 million addition to the Lloyd Noble Center that will give improved strength training facilities for both programs. A performance center will also be added in the project, which has no current timeline for completion.
“This facility is an elite sports science center that will enhance our ability to train student-athletes,” said OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione in the release. “We are focused on innovation and with this addition we move forward again in optimizing what student-athletes can achieve at the University of Oklahoma. We are committed to providing our student-athletes with a championship experience on every level and this is another project that reinforces our dedication.”
The addition will be approximately 18,400 gross square feet and should give the Sooners and head coach Lon Kruger some of the better facilities in the Big 12. The $7 million for the project was raised by private funds and athletics funds, according to the release.
“We need facilities that represent OU and its excellent tradition. This new facility will help our student-athletes reach their full potential and will also allow us to successfully compete with other schools for the absolute best recruits,” Kruger said.
Clearly, Oklahoma is intent on staying in the Big 12’s elite for basketball and this is a significant move that should help them in recruiting.