OU's Kruger says extra year of eligibility is 'new territory'

After Kur Kuath announced he would not be returning to Oklahoma next season, Sooners head coach Lon Kruger said the coaching staff would have formal conversations with the other seniors about their future plans after the season
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Kur Kuath led the way for the Sooners on Monday, becoming the first member of the 2020-21 basketball team to announce his plans for next season.

“I’ve been thinking just what’s best for my family,” Kuath said. “It’s best for me to leave and try to start a pro career just so I can generate some money for my family.”

The senior forward could have returned to Norman for one more year, as the NCAA granted an additional year of eligibility for every athlete amid the COVID pandemic.

On deck are Austin Reaves, Brady Manek and Alondes Williams. All seniors as well, none of the OU trio have declared their intentions for next season.

“This is new territory for all the programs,” Lon Kruger said during a video press conference on Thursday. “Especially with the combination of the COVID year where everyone gets an extra year if they want it, and then also the, what expects to be the ability to transfer with immediate eligibility. So it’s going to be new territory.”

Kur KUa

Kur KUa

Kruger said formal discussions about returning to the program won’t be held until after this season concludes.

“We’ll sit down with all the players individually after the season’s over and talk about all the options that are on the table,” Kruger said.

The coaching staff had “casual conversations” with Kuath before his announcement, and fully support his decision to pursue a professional career, Kruger said.

“The expectation’s for him wanting to go play professionally somewhere. We totally get that,” he said. “I think Kur’s made terrific progress over the last couple three years. I think he’ll continue to do that hopefully in the lat month or two here.”

For the rest of the seniors, perhaps the way the Sooners have shaped up since December will be motivation enough to return and chase a Big 12 Championship and a Final Four berth. With four games still scheduled in the regular season (plus the possibility of playing the postponed home games against Texas and Baylor), OU has hope of finishing strong and earning a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. As of last Saturday, the NCAA Tournament deems them a 3-seed.

Even if Reaves, Manek or Williams decide to call it a wrap on their collegiate careers and join the ranks of professional players at the end of the season, Kruger said he will support their decisions.

“We totally get that and have always encouraged (going pro) when the players feel it’s right.”