Sunday, April 15, 2012
D.J. Bennett, Ryan Spangler commit
By Bob Przybylo
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger added some much-needed size to the Sooners' frontcourt over the weekend, winning commitments from junior college forward D.J. Bennett and former Gonzaga forward Ryan Spangler.
Bennett (Ottumwa, Iowa/Indian Hills CC), who is listed at 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds, committed late Saturday night, while Spangler, at 6-8 and 235 pounds, gave his pledge Sunday morning.
"We have both committed," Spangler said. "It was great talking with D.J. this entire weekend. We're looking to build on something special with the Sooners."
It wasn't a huge shock for the Sooners to land Spangler, who was the Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011 at Blanchard (Okla.) Bridge Creek.
But the addition of Bennett was a pleasant surprise. Heading into the weekend, it looked like Arkansas was in the lead for Bennett. But that all changed during his visit with OU.
While the weather proved uncooperative -- severe rain, hail and tornadoes pounded the state on Friday and Saturday -- it didn't matter to Bennett, Spangler said.
"I'm from here so of course I was used to everything, but D.J. actually was comfortable," Spangler said. "He wanted to get outside and look at everything. He is just a good person, a very funny guy that I'm looking forward to getting to know better."
Spangler was granted his release from Gonzaga earlier this week, a decision he said was among the toughest he has ever made. The decision to commit to OU? That was among the easiest he has made, he said.
Despite being the best Oklahoma high school player in 2011, Spangler was not recruited by then-OU coach Jeff Capel. Gonzaga coach Mark Few made a great impression with Spangler, who said he has nothing but positive things to say about the Bulldogs and their program.
Spangler chose to transfer because he wanted a chance to play closer to home, so his family and friends could see him play. With Kruger's commitment to keeping top local talent home, it seemed like a natural fit for Spangler.
After a weekend of conversations with the staff and players, Spangler now has no doubts and knows he will fit in.
"I like Coach Kruger's attitude and how he can be so straight up about everything," Spangler said. "I had to make sure that everything was in place. I was confident coming into the trip and nothing changed.
"I can only imagine how happy my friends and family are. I'm sure word is spreading right now. I'm excited to get a chance to play in front of them again."
Spangler averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds while playing sparingly in 22 games for Gonzaga as a freshman. He will have to sit out next season but will have three years of eligibility remaining. Bennett will be able to play for the Sooners next season.