Oklahoma basketball: Sooner losses mounting

NORMAN, OK - MARCH 2: Kameron McGusty
NORMAN, OK - MARCH 2: Kameron McGusty /

Early last week Oklahoma basketball phenom Trae Young surprised no one with his announcement that he is leaving school for the NBA.

The Sooner men’s basketball program had only one senior on this year’s 18-14 team, Khadeem Lattin. Even with Young’s huge shoes to fill, Oklahoma had a full complement of current and former starters returning.

Within the past couple of days, however, that returning experience has dissipated further with surprise declarations by sophomores Jordan Shepherd and Kameron McGusty that they are transferring.

Shepherd was the backup to Young this past season, so it is easy to see why his playing time was reduced, but he was considered the heir apparent to the starting point guard role next season. And just the other day he had been quoted in the Oklahoma City Oklahoman as saying he was looking forward to taking over that role.

“He (Young) had a great season,” Shepherd said, “but at the same time, I feel that I have the ability to maybe not go as far as leading the country in assists and scoring, but I think the program will be in good hands.”

Just two days after that, the 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore point guard from Asheville, North Carolina, announced he was leaving the program.

Shepherd’s minutes dropped to 11.4 this season from 17.0 his freshman year. Not surprisingly, his scoring average dipped as well. He averaged 2.3 points this season, down a couple of points from a year ago.

McGusty, who is from Katy, Texas, came off the bench for most of this season, but worked his way back into the starting lineup in Oklahoma’s final eight games. He started 17 games the year before. He averaged 8.9 points a game this season, playing about six minutes less than the 24.9 minutes a game he averaged his freshman season.

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners Basketball /

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball

Both Shepherd and McGusty were being counted upon as potential starters next season.

Neither gave a reason for wanting to leave the program. You can speculate that Shepherd was looking for more playing time or perhaps wanted to play on a better team with a chance to win a conference championship.

Shepherd also was aware, though, that the Sooners were looking to recruit another point guard. They already have a 2019 commitment from De’Vion Harmon, a four-star prospect from Denton, Texas, who is expected to be able to immediately step into the role once he gets on campus.

McGusty, on the other hand, was getting more of a chance to play and was almost assured of seeing more action next season.

There were isolated reports during the season that there were some chemistry issues on the Oklahoma team. Whether this might have been the cause or the result of losing 14 of their last 18 games is not known, but something was definitely going on to lead to such a dramatic collapse over the second half of the season.

Whether Shepherd and McGusty are part of any alleged chemistry issues that are going on, or a casualty of the problem, is not clear. But if there is dissension among the ranks, that is something that absolutely needs to get remedied this offseason – sooner rather than later – or the road traveled next season by head coach Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma basketball team could get even rockier and unsettling than it was to close out this season