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3 Oklahoma After tasting success with an appearance in the Final Four, the Sooners have set their sights even higher

Instead of having his team fly home the day after its 73-64 loss
to Indiana at the Final Four last March, Sooners coach Kelvin
Sampson let his players stay two extra days in Atlanta, where
they watched Maryland beat the Hoosiers to win the national
championship. Sampson's not-so-subtle message to his guys: You
could have been playing in this game instead of watching it. Now,
with four starters returning and two prized recruits joining the
team, Oklahoma has every reason to expect that it can play in the
NCAA final this season. "Everybody wants to know if we can be as
good as we were last year," Sampson says. "But I want to be

Hollis Price, the spindly 6'1" senior shooting guard who led the
Sooners in scoring last season (16.5 points a game), is a
consensus All-America candidate, but his fellow seniors Ebi Ere
and Quannas White will be equally pivotal to Oklahoma's hopes of
winning the national title. White, who transferred a year ago
from Midland (Texas) Community College, proved adept at handling
the point guard duties, averaging 4.7 assists a game and shooting
45.9% from three-point range during Big 12 games, seventh best in
the conference. The 6'5" Ere was voted the Big 12's newcomer of
the year after transferring from Barton County (Kansas) Community

Still, it won't be easy replacing the 16.0 points and 7.7
rebounds that Aaron McGhee provided. Junior center Jabahri Brown,
who finished sixth in the conference in blocks (1.6 a game), has
expanded his offensive repertoire, and 6'8" sophomore Johnnie
Gilbert will get plenty of minutes after redshirting last season,
but the most intriguing frontcourt talent is 6'8" freshman Kevin
Bookout, a terrific shooter (he made an absurd 84.3% from the
floor as a high school senior) who was named Oklahoma's Mr.
Basketball last season.

In assembling a rigorous schedule--Oklahoma's nonconference
opponents include Alabama, UConn, Michigan State and
Princeton--Sampson is sending another not-so-subtle message to
the rest of the country. "All these teams say they want us? Good.
We want them, too," he says. Even the hunted can go hunting, and
Sampson's Sooners are ready to move in for the kill. --Seth Davis

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH Q BALL White ran the point to perfection for the Sooners and also shot 45.9% from three-point range in Big 12 play.



SF Ebi Ere 6'5" Sr. 14.6 ppg
PF Kevin Bookout 6'8" Fr. 30.6 ppg*
C Jabahri Brown 6'10" Jr. 5.7 rpg
PG Quannas White 6'1" Sr. 4.7 apg
SG Hollis Price 6'1" Sr. 16.5 ppg

Returning starter
*As high school senior

2001-02 RECORD: 31-5 (13-3, 2nd in Big 12)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Indiana in Final Four

Sooners' record last season when they scored at least 80 points.
Under Kelvin Sampson, Oklahoma is 102-10 when scoring

An opposing coach's view

The running, gunning Sooners are deep, tough and talented

"You have to keep them off the boards. They're great offensive
rebounders and defenders, and they'll run off long rebounds and
steals.... Last year their inside players were scorers, but with
Aaron McGhee gone, I don't think they have anyone to replace that
inside.... Hollis Price hits their big shots, and he's really
good in transition, off the dribble and coming off screens....
Quannas White was the unsung key to their team last year. He's
quick, and he's so cool under pressure.... Ebi Ere is a streaky
shooter who can drill threes one night and then disappear the
next. They like to back-screen for him on the block and post him
up.... Kevin Bookout will be a steadying force inside.... Jabahri
Brown isn't a good shooter, but he's a tremendous offensive