Sep 16, 2012, 4:52 PM EDT
Oklahoma senior forward Romero Osby has spent four years at the college level and had just one season of impact.
His first two were spent at Mississippi State, where playing time for the Meridian, Mississippi native was sparse and the period was described by him as “kind of a waste of time” in an article by Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman.
After those two seasons Osby transferred to Oklahoma, where he found his confidence under Jeff Capel despite having to sit out the 2010-11 season.
“I think this will be the rebirth of Romero Osby,” Capel said at the time of Osby’s transfer. “He was not really able to show a lot of the things he can do in his two years at Mississippi State. We recruited him out of high school and I loved him. I’m excited about the opportunity to coach him.”
But just when Osby was ready to apply that growth on the floor Capel was relieved of his duties and replaced by Lon Kruger.
Any fears Osby had about the coaching change subsided quickly, and in his first season for the Sooners Osby averaged 12.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest.
Those numbers were good enough to earn Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors and with a year with Kruger under their belts and some good newcomers led by Wyoming transfer Amath M’Baye, Osby has some lofty goals for both he and his team this year.
And now, far removed from his two-year downward spiral at Mississippi State, Osby feels ready for huge senior season.
His stated team goals — “a Big 12 championship and NCAA berth.” His stated individual goals — “Big 12 player of the year.”
And he wants to do it all at the place he calls his new home.
“My wife’s here, my daughter’s here, we live here,” Osby said. “Norman, Oklahoma, is where we live. It feels kind of weird, but at the same time, I’ve loved and enjoyed my three years here and I want to end it the right way.”
But can Oklahoma accomplish Osby’s team goal of winning the Big 12 and reaching the NCAA tournament?
The former will be tough, especially when considering the fact that Kansas has won the last eight Big 12 titles. But simply reaching the NCAA tournament? That’s within their reach.
Osby is one of five returning starters for Oklahoma, with senior shooting guard Steven Pledger leading last year’s squad with an average of 16.2 points per game.
The newcomers are led by the aforementioned M’Baye and freshman guards Buddy Hield and Jelon Hornbeak, and while most teams that add nine newcomers would be concerned about experience OU also has five seniors.
Oklahoma hasn’t heard their name called on Selection Sunday since 2009 and in a balanced Big 12 (it does help some that Missouri is in the SEC) there will be challenges, but getting back should be a realistic goal for them.
It’s the job of Osby and his teammates to make sure their return to the Big Dance becomes a reality.
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