For a couple of seasons, 6-foot, 10-inch redshirt junior Jamuni McNeace has been the tallest player on the Oklahoma basketball team. That is no longer the case.
There is a new tall man in Norman, and his name is Hannes Polla. Polla is an inch shorter than McNeace and several years behind him in experience level, but his presence will give the Sooners added strength inside and at the rim and another weapon with which to create offensive and defensive mismatches.
A native of Finland, Polla is the second European student-athlete to play for OU head coach Lon Kruger (Amath M’Baye, from France, who played at Oklahoma for one season, in 2012-13, was the other).
Polla was coached high school in Finland by Hanno Motolla, who played for two seasons in the NBA under Kruger when he was coach of the Atlanta Hawks.
Rated as the 34th best center in the 2017 national recruiting class by ESPN, Polla averaged 12.9 points and 9.3 rebounds playing in the Finnish League in 2016-17. He played for the U20, U18 and U16 Finnish National Team and was a starter on the 2017 U20 team in the European Division B Championship.
Polla, who will wear the No. 44 jersey this season for the Sooners, arrived in Norman at the beginning of August and was there just a few days before he was headed off to New Zealand and Australia with his new Oklahoma teammates for an international exhibition tour.
On the Sooners’ late-summer foreign exhibition tour, Polla averaged nearly eight points a game and, beyond that, hit an impressive 14 of 16 shots. In three of the four games, he shot a perfect 1.000 (4 for 4, 4 for 4 and 3 out of 5).
Oklahoma assistant coach Carlin Hartman reportedly had a big hand in luring Polla to Norman. Hartman has a strong background in recruiting players from overseas.