Oklahoma Sooners Basketball | Lon Kruger’s Options After Dismissing Akolda Manyang


The Oklahoma Sooners lacked significant depth in the post throughout the season. However, that didn’t stop the program from earning a spot in Houston during the Final Four. Moving forward, the physicality and production on the glass from Ryan Spangler will certainly be missed. Expected to start at the center position sat a developing 7-footer, Akolda Manyang.

Earlier this month, news broke of Manyang’s dismissal from the program leaving a rather large void. With the absence, depth becomes of utmost concern. The only options available to Lon Kruger are to 1) play small through an unforgiving conference slate or 2) lean heavily on a crop of inexperience.

Most Experienced Option

RS Sophomore – Jumani McNeace – 6-10 Center

Entering the collegiate ranks, Jumani McNeace was touted as the No. 25 center in the country. Sitting out as a true freshman, the product from Kankakee learned the ropes while acclimating to the physicality and speed of the D-I level. During a redshirt year, McNeace provided 7.7 minutes per game off the bench collecting a total of 37 rebounds and 8 blocks. Attempting a mere 22 shots though may be a cause for concern.

Forward Kadeem Lattin proved to be a shot changing force in the middle of the lane. Adding another defensive player works well in a rotation but the Sooners desperately need a scoring option in the blocks. At this point in time, I’m not convinced McNeace is the best option to produce points.

That title slides over to Dante Buford.

Playing Small

RS Sophomore – Dante Buford – 6-7 Forward

During the second half of the season, Dante Buford provided a scoring option while showcasing the ability to attack the rim as well as shoot from outside.  Connecting on 4-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc against the Iowa State Cyclones, Buford recorded a career high 14 points. Still coming into his own, the forward could provide an opportunity for the Sooners to run up tempo.

Inexperienced Options

RS Freshman – Matt Freeman – 6-10 Forward

Although fans have yet to see Matt Freeman take the court, he has a year in the system. With nothing to lose, the product from New Zealand modeled his game after the likes of Kevin Love and Ryan Anderson. Those are two players who possess the ability to create for themselves off the dribble while playing inside and out. If the skills translate to game time situations, we could see one of the better post players in recent years — in terms of offensive ability.

Incoming Freshman – Kristian Doolittle – 6-7 Forward

During his high school career, Kristian Doolittle notched himself as a part of the 1,000 point club. The most defining attribute of this athlete may very easily be his versatility. Shane Cowherd, the Edmond Memorial head coach described Doolittle to 247Sports with these words back in late 2014.

“We project [on the collegiate scene] him to be kind of a 3, 4, a hybrid between the two that will still be able to put on some muscle and frame out just a little bit more. But he’s got the explosiveness and he’s got the perimeter touch to be able to make plays for both himself and others as well. [He’s] exceptionally adept at defending and rebounding.”

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