Okay there, Chicken Little, calm down. OU men's basketball has been through a lot of turmoil this year, but I think people are freaking out just a tad. So, take a deep breath and let's address these issues one-by-one:
Tommy Mason-Griffin Declaring for the Draft
I've got to admit that this is a major head scratcher. I figured "TMG" (not to be confused with TMZ) would be here for another year at a minimum. I seriously hope that he knows what he's doing, because the deck is stacked against him at this point. Last night around 8:30 he posted this on his Facebook:
i leave skool early and gettin nothin but negative press...nobody wants so see yue make it
Tommy, it's not that we don't want to see you make it. On the contrary, Sooner fans always wish the best for their players. We're just worried that you won't make it if you leave now. Even Blake Griffin came back for a second year, and he was about as solid of a top-15 pick as you'll get being a freshman.
There's lots of reasons why a little seasoning would be good. First of all, TMG is a little undersized at 5-10 and in the NBA if he does wind up playing the point he'll be going up against much taller and larger point guards like Jason Kidd (6'4"), Baron Davis (6'3"), Russell Westbrook (6'3") just to name a few. Size was already an issue with his game inside the arc, as he only shot 37.7% from 2-point range this season, worst on the team by 10% for any player with at least 30 attempts. His assist to field goal attempt ratio was only 0.42, suggesting that he liked to pull up for a lot of shots rather than making the extra pass. If he's going to make it in the NBA he'll have to become a pure point guard.
He has problems to overcome about the perception of this year's Sooner team. They lost 9 straight games to end the season and were a pathetic 13-18 overall. You don't see NBA GMs lining up salivating over all the NBA-ready talent on a college team that can't even sniff .500, because if you can't win at the college level, you're probably not NBA ready. And yet we have 3 guys, THREE, that are considering the NBA right now - TMG, along with Willie Warren and Tiny Gallon (more on the others later). In my opinion, that's just mind boggling. They played terrible defense, surrendering the 37th worst effective field goal percentage, and forcing the 31st least turnovers in NCAA Division 1. Add to that TMG's height, and NBA GM's will wonder whether or not he'll be able to play any defense at the professional level.
Eamonn Brennan from ESPN sums it up:
NBA scouting types seem to agree [about TMG not being ready for draft]. Chad Ford doesn't have Mason-Griffin in his top 100 Insider, let alone in the top two rounds of the draft.
Jeff Eisenberg chimes in and hits the nail on the head, I think:
DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony tweeted Monday that he expects Mason-Griffin to go undrafted, adding that the "market for 5'10 overweight combo guards w/inflated egos" is pretty limited.
If Capel speaks candidly, he probably wouldn't disagree. Asked by the New York Times after Oklahoma's opening-round Big 12 tournament loss whether any of his players were NBA-ready, Capel responded, "That's an insult to players in the NBA."
Ray Willis Deciding To Transfer
Honestly, this is probably the best decision for Ray. I don't know if he was ever going to get the playing time that he wanted here. He'll be a solid player for a smaller school, and we certainly wish him the best of luck.
Tiny Gallon Rumors
For a few days, we've been hearing the rumors that Tiny took money from an agent, something that TMZ broke, which is unusual, because I figured TMZ would be more concerned about Britney Spears or something (and no, I'm not referring to the Colorado basketball player). Nothing new on this front except for the fact that Tiny has hired a lawyer (according to TMZ). I guess we'll know more when we know it. C&C has a nice rundown here. Hard to say whether or not Tiny is on the way out. I feel like he would stick around and try and improve, but with this story I'm unsure now. Gut feeling is he'll be around for at least another year and we'll be embroiled in some sort of NCAA investigation, but then again what else is new?
Willie Going Pro?
Say what you want about Willie, but at least he had the presence of mind to not make the jump to the NBA after his freshman year, and realized that you can do plenty to improve your game in the college ranks. We all know that Willie has NBA-level talent. However, he's going to have some nagging questions surrounding him if he decides to make the jump this year. How is his ankle, and is he becoming injury prone? How do you explain such a huge drop-off in production this year? Again, just like TMG he played on a losing basketball team that was supposed to have tons of talent, and he played on a team with atrocious defense. I'm sure the NBA scouts saw some of the meltdowns that he had where he would turn the ball over about 5 times in a row. He tried to draw contact in the lane too much when there wasn't anything there, and then complained about not getting a foul. He might get that more in the NBA, but it seemed like Willie took a step back this year.
I'm sure he is just itching to get to the NBA, but I think Willie could really benefit from another year to redeem himself and try to play his way back up the draft boards. With TMG out of the picture, Willie could essentially slide over to starting point guard and play that position a little more, which is probably where he would be playing in the NBA anyways. I know that TMZ is trying to cook up some drama about Willie, but he recently tweeted this:
How am I getting put in someone elses mess...
I know Willie has a rep as having a bit of an ego or what-not, but I'm going to stick up for him a little bit here. First of all, there's nothing even remotely close to linking Willie and a money deposit like there is with Tiny. Second, even though Willie has had his ups and downs, he really has seemed like a team player when he's been here. He passed up the NBA to come back and lace 'em up for the Sooners and he had a little bit of a tough year, so let's just give him the benefit of the doubt unless we hear differently.
Who's Left On Our Roster?
SG Steven Pledger (6-4)
PG T.J. Franklin (5-11)
PF Andrew Fitzgerald (6-8)
C Orlando Allen (6-11)
SG Ryan Randolph (6-4)
SF/PF Kyle Hardrick (6-8)
SG Cade Davis (6-5)
PG/SG Willie Warren (6-4)
PF/C Tiny Gallon (6-9)
In addition to those, we will be receiving two recruits who are pretty highly ranked by the recruiting services. Cameron Clark is a 6-6 small forward who is on the ESPNU Top 100, ranked #28 overall, and the #6 small forward prospect. T.J. Taylor is a 6-3 point guard who is also on the ESPNU Top 100, ranked #71 overall, and the #16 point guard prospect. Both of those guys should have a good chance to start given everything that's happened.
If Warren and Gallon both return, that would leave OU with 11 players, and it would mean Jeff Capel would probably sign more. There have also been rumblings about a couple other guys too, but that is just a couple of people on random message boards, so let's not start any new rumors. We'll probably look to sign some JUCO players, or perhaps one or two more high schoolers too.