Growing up in Arcadia, Oklahoma, there wasn’t a lot to do, but it was definitely enough to stay productive.
I remember coming home from school and instead of just hanging out, my friends and I would always find something to do. We’d play football outside or we’d go to the court and play basketball. I loved it because I got to build a foundation with friends and guys that I still talk with to this day. It also helped me establish a foundation in my work ethic.
Being from such a small town, you had to work for everything.
Back then, it was fun to just compete by playing basketball with friends. You just grew into it, mostly playing in parks and driveways. We would play outside and just have fun with it before taking it more seriously when we got to middle school.
My dad was a big basketball guy, so it kind of rubbed off on my siblings and me. My mom also ran track growing up, so that athlete perspective my parents had just took a hold on me from a young age.
I loved following guards like Mookie Blaylock and Hollis Price. I especially remember when Blake Griffin got here. He really put a stamp on OU basketball. It was fun to just see that and see what OU basketball could become.
When Coach Kruger came to OU, it was at the end of my sophomore year of high school. He was just a few weeks into getting established in the new job and he was already reaching out to me. Our first meeting went great and he continued to support me throughout my time at Edmond Memorial. Coach Kruger and Coach Crutchfield came to a lot of my practices and games. Even when I had a hurt hamstring in high school and had to sit out, they’d still show up to my games and supported me. That meant a lot.
My decision to play for Coach Kruger was based a lot on his background and knowing his track record. He was a great coach with a lot of accomplishments, but I especially loved that he used to be a point guard in the old Big Eight.
He wanted me to run the point and at a high tempo, that’s his style of play. I knew I could learn from him and grow my game with him as my coach.
That really made it simple for me to believe in him and what he was trying to do at OU.
Once I arrived in Norman, Coach Kruger had me in the starting lineup my freshman season. Getting the start in my first college game was crazy. It was a sensational feeling. I wasn’t expecting to come in a do that, which made it even more special. It was a blessing to be able to come in and contribute at such a high level right away. The trust that the coaching staff and my teammates had in me right away gave me confidence throughout my four years as a Sooner.
That first year had a lot of great memories. That was the last year that student-athletes lived in "The Bud" before OU finished the new Headington Hall. It was really fun to live there my first year in college. It was like living in a close-knit small town culture, kind of like where I’m from.
Our team had some incredible moments – from great Bedlam games to Buddy’s 46 against Kansas to playing in Barclays Center in Brooklyn right around when it opened. We never lost to Texas at home – my guys made sure of that this year even when I had to sit it out.
We had a lot of fun games inside the Lloyd Noble Center. I still remember the energy when I hit six 3s in a row last season against Central Arkansas. Everything I threw up was just going in and the crowd and my teammates were having so much fun with each bucket.
All of last year was pretty incredible. We weren’t really expected to make it as far as the Final Four, which made it even more magical. The whole season just felt precise, we never really had a drop off and were locked in the entire time. I will never forget that journey and what we accomplished as a team.
I’ve had some great teammates at OU that I’ll be able to cherish for the rest of my life. What we were able to accomplish and the bond we had is irreplaceable. I’m so grateful for all of the late nights in the gym, the good times and the bad, and the work ethic we used to push each other to our bests.
I want to give a special shout out to Coach Crutchfield. He has put in so much work during his time here. From recruiting me, to always taking the time to dissect my game. He was the first person to tell me that I could become a great shooter. People don’t remember, but I used to be a terrible shooter. Crutch was the first person to tell me that I could shoot. He believed in me. Everything he’s done has meant a lot to me.
And then there’s Coach Kruger – one of the greatest minds in basketball! He is so sincere in everything he does and has an amazing pedigree.
I know what these young guys are capable of in the next few years – get ready for them, Sooner Nation!
I only wish that I could play one last game in front of the Sooner faithful on Saturday. But with this knee injury, I have a different journey now. The best is yet to come, that’s my thing. Once I get back I just want to elevate my game to another level and keep playing ball.
I had surgery last week and the doctors said it went really well. I don’t know if my recovery will take six months or a whole year, but either way I’ll be back to playing the game I love.
As I focus on this new journey ahead of me, I want to look back and say thank you to the Sooner Nation for the support you’ve shown over the last four years. I loved my time at the University of Oklahoma and I will always be a Sooner. The love this state has given me throughout my career has been so powerful and Oklahoma will always be my home.
I’m proud to be from Arcadia, Oklahoma. I’m proud to be a Sooner.