Oklahoma releases three recruits from commitments

Updated: May 3, 2006, 8:04 PM ET
Associated Press

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 year.

"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 deserves."

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press