The normal introduction doesn’t apply to today as the world of sports and beyond continue to mourn the tragic loss of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Our thoughts are with the Bryant family.
A legend on the court.— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) January 27, 2020
A global ambassador for our sport.
An icon of our generation.
From all of us in the Oklahoma Basketball Family - Thank You, Kobe. pic.twitter.com/EmlDnQtTf4
Trae Young, who had developed a special bond with both Kobe and Gianna over the past year and had FaceTimed with the two of them just hours before their passing, paid tribute as fittingly as anyone. The OU product and Norman native wore Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 at the beginning of the game, and he would go on to score 45 points on 24 attempts.
That one was for you...— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 27, 2020
Rest Easy Kobe pic.twitter.com/mXW86TKXsP
“He was with me tonight”, said Young following the game.
Now on to this week’s Monday edition of Hot Links. The Oklahoma Sooners have a new No. 1 on defense, Lon Kruger picks up an in-state verbal commitment for 2021, and more.
- Spencer Rattler hasn’t officially been named Oklahoma’s starting QB yet, but he’s already gaining a lot of momentum in offseason Heisman Trophy odds. According to SuperBookUSA, the redshirt freshman out of Phoenix, Ariz. currently has the third-best odds to win college football’s most prestigious award in 2020.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields & Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence co-favorites to win Heisman via @SuperBookUSA followed by OU’s Spencer Rattler, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger & Georgia’s Jamie Newman pic.twitter.com/rZg7S1TErO— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) January 27, 2020
- The college football staff over at ESPN went through the top 25 to breakdown what has to happen for each team to win next season’s national championship. For Oklahoma, the struggle as of late has been finding a way to get over the CFP semifinal hump.
- With CB Jordan Parker out of the mix, the door has been opened for a new No. 1 on defense. Looks like that next player will be another cornerback — true freshman Joshua Eaton.
- Orlando Brown Jr. made this year’s Pro Bowl, and before the festivities kicked off he wanted to represent his late father by wearing his old man’s jersey from his own playing days with the Baltimore Ravens. A great gesture from this son and Sooner for life.
Orlando Brown Jr. wore his dad's jersey to Pro Bowl.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) January 27, 2020
"He never made one in his 13-year career and to make one is not the easiest thing, and I know he would be proud."
▶️ https://t.co/ywNXdepYEz#OUDNA | #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/VdmitWEwsG
- OU junior right-handed pitcher Cade Cavalli was named a preseason third-team All-American by Baseball America. Cavalli is part of a relatively deep and experienced collection of pitchers that Oklahoma will rely on this season.
- OU junior Kaitlin Milligan has accepted an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur ahead of The Masters tournament in April. Congratulations on such a phenomenal honor, Kaitlin!
- Once again, OU women’s gymnastic is still ranked No. 1 for the fourth week in a row. Something tells me this year’s group is special, even by Oklahoma’s standards.
- In the latest bracketology update from CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, Oklahoma is solidly included in the NCAA Tournament mix as a No. 9 seed. If the Sooners can finish Big 12 play at or above .500, they should be a virtual lock for the Big Dance.
- Speaking of hoops, class of 2021 three-star point guard Bijan Cortes out of Kingfisher, Oklahoma verbally committed to OU on Sunday. According to 247Sports, this 6’1” prospect is also the No. 3 player in the Sooner State. He currently holds offers from Oklahoma State, Tulsa, North Texas and Oral Roberts.
- Finally, in case you missed it, DeMarco Murray is reportedly coming back to Norman as OU’s running backs coach.
Around the Sports World
- I highly recommend that you check out this touching goodbye to Kobe Bryant from Harrison Faigen over at Silver Screen & Roll. Words will never be enough, but for now it’ll suffice to remember an icon of his magnitude.
- On Monday morning, the Cincinnati Reds signed free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos to a four-year, $64 million deal.
- ESPN’s Bill Barnwell took a stab at five NFL teams who could make a similar leap to the San Francisco 49ers by going from mediocrity to the Super Bowl in one season.
- San Diego State remains the lone undefeated team in Division I men’s basketball after holding on for a close win over UNLV on Sunday. The Aztecs are now 21-0, good for the program’s longest winning streak and best start to a season.
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