A major challenger to Kansas and Texas in next season's highly-anticipated Big 12 basketball season may have fallen back with the news over the weekend that Oklahoma's Jeff Capel has dismissed forward Juan Pattillo from the program.
The release stated it was for a second violation of team rules and Capel promised no comment on the matter. But many close to the program believe that Pattillo's downfall was in particular in his lack of committment to doing his due diligence in the classroom and his failure to understand there is more to major college basketball than just playing the game.
Pattillo was projected as a major contributor next season along what was to be and now most certainly will be an inexperienced front line because of the loss of Blake and Taylor Griffin. He provided a January boost for the Sooners after shedding a redshirt, though he faded in significance as the season progressed. He was suspended for the Feb. 28 game against Texas Tech for another violation of team policy with the subplot again a failure to grasp the big picture. Doubtful he will get it elsewhere.
His loss means real dependence on the emergence of a group of young and promising freshmen (Tiny Gallon, Kyle Hardrick and Andrew Fitzgerald) among five signed frontcourt players, and returnees Orlando Allen and Ryan Wright if OU is to be a strong contender. The Sooners nevertheless should be able to play to the level of NCAA Tournament capability led by sophomore guard Willie Warren and the ultra-talented power forward Gallon.
Pattillo overaged 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds over 18 games but blew a promising finish to his major college career.--Mike Jones.