Just nine seasons ago, the men from Norman, OK, found themselves in Houston as one of the last four teams standing. We all know how it went down. Buddy Hield just kept hitting net from the great beyond. The Sooners haven’t quite reached that euphoria again, but things look like they might be changing.
Six players departed through the portal but Coach Porter Moser matched that number with incoming transfers ahead of this season. The ex-Loyola Chicago leader is building a culture in his new colors, bringing his fiery and passionate personality to the sideline.
Even with all the fresh faces, Sooner fans still have some familiar hoopers to cheer for. Case in point: Milos Uzan, a 2022-23 Big 12 All-Freshman Team selection. “Los,” as he’s been called, showed promising potential in his first year, doing a little bit of everything offensively. That finishing package, though, is special. And his classmate Otega Oweh? He knows a thing or two about filling it up, too, especially in clutch time. Just ask Andy Enfield and USC.
Putting it bluntly, this group just has a bunch of athletes. Like, guys who can actually jump out of the gym.
“We’ve got a lot higher athletes. Guys who can put their head at the rim. We didn’t really have that last year too much,” Uzan said in October. “[We have] more of a paint presence, as well.”
Junior guard Javian McCollum is part of that presence. A recent transfer from Siena, where he was the go-to player for the Saints on the offensive end, McCollum hoops like there’s no tomorrow. You can’t even tell he’s the shortest player in Moser’s rotation. McCollum merges shiftiness and an elite handle to display some showstopping creativity. Just weeks into his career as a Sooner, No. 2 took home MVP at the Rady Children’s Invitational. But he’s not the only creator on the perimeter. Rivaldo Soares is a dangerous wing threat off the bench, and Le’Tre Darthard, a transfer from Utah Valley, is a difference-maker with and without the ball.
In the frontcourt, John Hugley IV, the former main man at Pitt, can shake things up on both ends. During the 2021-22 campaign, only three players in the ACC averaged more rebounds per game than he did. The ex-Panther is just one former member of the ACC on OU. Jalon Moore, a dynamic slashing wing from Georgia Tech, owns some real hops that make him a force in Moser’s starting unit.
OU has a history of seeing its walk-ons reach success. That trend continues with this team. Just two seasons ago, Sam Godwin was coming off the bench for Wofford College. He received a walk-on offer from OU, and the rest is history. Now, he’s contributing to the starting five of a Big 12 program. If you need a rebound, Moser’s first call is an obvious one. Few are better at earning a second chance in the halfcourt than Godwin.