Oklahoma’s men’s basketball team was dealt a devastating blow on Friday when it was announced that senior guard Elijah Harkless would miss the remainder of the season due to an injury. Harkless preceded the official announcement from the university with the following social media post.
“First and foremost we are all hurting for Elijah,” Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser said in a statement that came later. “He is such a competitor and his spirit is such an integral part of our team. It is hard for any athlete to have their season to come to an abrupt end. We will be praying for a speedy recovery.”
Obviously everyone wishes Elijah the best, and a speedy recovery, but you also can’t help but turn your attention to what’s next for the Sooners who now must try to make a push towards March Madness without their best defensive player. Harkless has played in all 26 of Oklahoma’s games this season, making 23 starts, and was averaging 10.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per contest.
Here are three things we might see in the absence of Harkless as the Sooners move forward.
More Jacob Groves
In the three games that Harkless didn’t start this season it was Jacob Groves making an appearance in the starting lineup instead. The younger Groves scored 12 points at West Virginia on January 26th, 6 points a few days later when the Sooners played at #1 Auburn, and then was shutout at home against TCU in 19 minutes of playing time. On the season Jacob Groves is averaging 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for
A Stronger Defensive Presence From Jalen Hill
Harkless was tied with Mo Gibson for second on the team with 35 steals, Jordan Goldwire leads the way with 40, and Jalen Hill is third with 21. It’ll likely be Hill who picks up the defensive slack left by Harkless. Hill already leads the team with 12 blocked shots and with 116 defensive rebounds. He’s absolutely capable of stepping into the role of Oklahoma’s top defender.
More Scoring From Hill And Jordan Goldwire
Harkless was one of four Oklahoma players averaging in double figures. With 10 points per game he was just behind Jordan Goldwire who is producing 10.2 points per game. It’s possible that Hill could see a boost in offensive production. He’s currently averaging 8.9 points per game which is the fourth best production on the team. However, it’s likely that Porter Moser will look for Goldwire to do more in the scoring department. I think Moser is already getting all that he can out of Tanner Groves and Mo Gibson so that means Goldwire and Hill are the next options to help make up the points lost.
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