- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Jeff Capel's current problems at Oklahoma have been well-documented. He lost two star freshmen -- forward Tiny Gallon and point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin -- to very questionable draft decisions. Guard Willie Warren is leaving too, having failed in his second year to deliver on the promise of his first. And Oklahoma has opened an internal investigation into a wire transfer Gallon allegedly received from a financier in Florida, which if true would constitute an NCAA infraction. Compared with the brilliance of the Sooners' Blake Griffin-led campaign in 2008-09, it has not been a good year for Capel.
There is, however, some good news. Oklahoma will, in fact, be able to field a team in 2010-11. Huzzah!
Capel has quietly reloaded his roster recently, signing four players in the last eight days. Along with three junior college transfers, the haul gives Capel -- count 'em -- eight future Sooners in the class of 2010. None are quite as good as Gallon or Warren or Mason-Griffin, to be sure; all three were former McDonald's All-Americans who came to Oklahoma with huge hype. Instead, Capel's class has just two ESPNU top 100 players: No. 6-ranked small forward Cameron Clark and No. 16-ranked point guard T.J. Taylor. The rest of the class, none of which rank near the top 100, is mediocre by Capel's standards.
No matter. The good news here is not that Capel is reloading with top talent. It's that he's reloading at all. The Sooners will be young and inexperienced and will probably have to rely heavily on junior college transfers Nick Thompson and C.J. Washington to anchor the interior. But given where Capel was just a few weeks ago -- watching his franchise players leave for the NBA, watching his program come under fire for one of those players' alleged improprieties -- that's a positive development all the same. For now, Capel's Sooners will be about weathering the storm. They may be makeshift, but at least he has some materials with which to build a shelter. (Storm metaphor? Anyone? No? OK, then. Let's end here.)