NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma on Wednesday released three
basketball recruits from national letters of intent they signed
while Kelvin Sampson was still the Sooners' head coach.
McDonald's All-American guard Scottie Reynolds and forwards
Damion James and Jeremy Mayfield were all granted releases.
"Naturally, it would have been our preference that all of the
signees stay with OU, and we exerted considerable energy toward
that end," coach Jeff Capel, who was hired as Sampson's
replacement last month, said in a statement. "The releases have
been granted, and, while we remain hopeful that these three
individuals will wind up as Sooners, we must forge ahead with our
program and the young men who aspire to play and excel here."
Reynolds was expected to give the Sooners the dynamic point
guard they lacked last season during a 20-9 run that ended with a
disappointing loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round of the
NCAA Tournament. Reynolds averaged 27.3 points and 4.7 assists as a
senior at Herndon High School in Virginia and played in both the
McDonald's All-American game and the Roundball Classic.
James, from Nacogdoches, Texas, also played in the Roundball
Classic, another high-school all-star game.
All three were thought to be crucial additions to a team that
loses Taj Gray, Kevin Bookout and Terrell Everett -- a senior trio
that combined to score more than half of the team's points last
"While I firmly believe in honoring commitments, it is also my
belief that no student-athlete can achieve minus a full commitment
to the school and team," Capel said. "At the same time, I
appreciate the dedication of the young men who are here, and I am
confident that others who share our aspirations for excellence will
join them to give Oklahoma the kind of program it wants and
Athletic director Joe Castiglione said the university "very
much" believes in Capel as the program's leader for the future but
the releases were given with a long-term perspective.
"When athletics departments are confronted with requests for
releases from national letters of intent, we must judge what is in
the best interest of the university as well as the student-athletes
making the request," Castiglione said in the statement. "We know
that we have an athletic and educational experience here that is
second to none. We emphasized those facts to these individuals.
"The honorable thing to do now is to act based on our genuine
regard for these young people. Our actions in this matter will
benefit our program in the long run."
Oklahoma spokesman Mike Houck said Capel and Castiglione would
not comment beyond their written statements.