What De’Vion Harmon’s Absence Means For Oklahoma Sooners & NCAA Tournament

As the Oklahoma Sooners prepare for what lies ahead in the NCAA Tournament, the program will enter the first round without the talents of De’Vion Harmon. The sophomore who averages 12.9 points per contest tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Consequentially, Harmon must now quartantine for the next ten to eleven dates. That pushes his potential return date to the Sweet Sixteen — assuming the Sooners can get out of the first round and pull off a major update in the second. Still, the news brings up several questions regarding state of this team heading into the Big Dance.

The first of which is ball handling responsibilities. At this current point in time, the team heavily relies on the experience of Austin Reaves in the backcourt. Often times bringing the ball up the court, the senior guard proved to be a reliable decision maker. However, if ever Reaves found himself in a bit of trouble, Harmon stepped into a gap and provided an outlet. Now it appears as though the team will rely on a bigger starting lineup. It’s a group that lacks the same level of ball security in my humble opinion.

Secondly, there was no one better on the team at attacking the rim. Consistently taking high percentage shots in and around the lane, the guard connected on 47.7% of his shots from the field throughout the 2021 season and Big 12 Tournament. More recently, Harmon has showcased the ability to knock down jumpers from beyond the arc. In the previous five games, the Denton native accurately knocked down 50% of the three-point attempts. Quickly becoming a versatile yet dangerous player in all facets of the game, Harmon is a difficult loss for Oklahoma.

Replacing the quality of minutes is the last of the major concerns. Over the course of the year, the guard has racked up numerous minutes. Rarely stepping off the court, the sophomore averaged 31 minutes of playing time. In addition, Harmon has accounted for 51 passes which immediately resulted in points on the scoreboard. The number ranks second on the team as the court vision of the young player is developing. Defensively, the Sooner collected 27 steals placing him third on the team in the category. Clearly a team first guy, Harmon is active even without the ball in his hands.

While the riddle remains tough to solve, Lon Kruger is not an inexperienced coach dealing with adversity for the first time. Taking several teams deep into the NCAA Tournament, can the coach once again find that Sooner Magic without his second leading scorer available?

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