The state of Oklahoma is fast becoming a college basketball powerhouse.
The Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys are two of the nation’s most successful collegiate teams of the last decade.
Meanwhile, the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes don’t have the pedigree of their more established Oklahoma brethren, thus they aren’t the main focus of the state’s basketball-crazed fan base. But that’s about to change.
Tulsa is one of the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference. It’s quite the praise considering schools such as UConn, SMU and Cincinnati are all in the conversation of best AAC teams.
Coach Frank Haith inherited a Tulsa team that had reached the NCAA Tournament a year prior. Haith, who was replacing the departed Danny Manning, wasn’t able to bring the team back to the big dance, but he did have the building blocks for something special. As the 2015-16 season approaches, many are expecting Tulsa to make great strides. The excitement can be attributed to the Golden Hurricanes stellar backcourt duo of Seniors, James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison.
Woodard might be the AAC’s best guard. And while SMU’s Nic Moore makes a great case for himself, it’s Woodard that has NBA scouts salivating. Already a First-Team All-AAC member, Woodard is looking to improve upon his 14.5 point 4.9 rebound season this year.
Woodard flashed some of that NBA potential during the team’s final regular season game against an NCAA Tournament-bound SMU team. Woodard made 10 three-pointers in the contest, and despite taking the loss he gave a glimpse of what many can expect for his final season in Tulsa.
Shaquille Harrison isn’t the scorer that Woodard is, but he was still second on the team with 13.1 points per contest. In addition, the second-team All-AAC member led the Golden Hurricanes in assists with 3.7. While he can stand to improve his 24 percent three-point percentage, his overall 44.9 shot percentage proves he can be just as lethal on the offensive end as his backcourt mate.
Shaquille Harrison and James Woodard give Tulsa one of the most formidable backcourts in the American Athletic Conference.
And while they won’t dominate teams such as UConn, SMU or Cincinnati, they must be considered a threat when it comes to conference play. An American Athletic Conference title is Tulsa’s foremost priority.
However, Sooners and Cowboys everywhere need to also take notice, because the Golden Hurricanes aren’t going to be satisfied with playing the third wheel in a basketball crazed state.