Oklahoma is riding a four-game winning streak in men’s basketball, and a big reason for that is the play of senior forward Kristian Doolittle.
The only senior on coach Lon Kruger’s roster this season, Doolittle is averaging 17.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 12 games. He is currently second in the Big 12 in scoring behind Devon Dotson of Kansas (18.6).
At 6-foot, 7 inches, Doolittle’s value to the Sooners’ this season isn’t just as a scorer. He’s also been active on the boards. His nine rebounds per game ranks sixth in the conference, and he has recorded eight double-doubles (double digits in points and rebounds) in his last 21 games, dating back to last season.
The winner of the inaugural Most Improved Player in the Big 12 award a year ago is still improving, according to his head coach, and is making a strong case to repeat that recognition again this season. A year ago, his stat line read 11.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 points in 29 minutes of action per game.
This season, Doolittle has been recognized twice already as Big 12 Player of the Week, one of only two players in the conference to earn the honor more than once.
With a relatively young team, Oklahoma needs Doolittle’s senior leadership this season, and he has brought it in every game he’s played in. He’s missed two games. Fortunately, they were games the Sooners were able to win without their leading scorer.
Doolittle missed the season opener against the University of Texas-San Antonio, coached by former OU assistant Steve Henson, with a one-game NCAA suspension for participating in an unsanctioned simmer league basketball game. He also sat out the Sooners’ final nonconference game in the 2019 calendar year, against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, because of what Kruger described as a “conflict of team interests.”
A local product out of nearby Edmond, Oklahoma, Doolittle is the only Big 12 player averaging at least 15 points and eight rebounds a game, and he is scoring from everywhere on the floor, which has not been the case the past couple of years.
Doolittle did not even attempt a three-point shot last season and attempted just two the year before. He is shooting 51 percent from long range this season, though, draining 14 of 26 three-balls.
Over his last six games, the Sooner senior is averaging 20.7 points per game, including a career-high 28 points against North Texas. His final three points in that game broke a 78-all tie and proved to be the winning shot in an 82-80 comeback win for Oklahoma.
The Big 12 coaches named the OU star an honorable mention on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. The way Doolittle has been playing, that is likely to change upward by season’s end.