Capel Signs Four, Including Warren
Nov. 20, 2007
NORMAN, Okla. - For the second straight November, Oklahoma men's basketball head coach Jeff Capel has assembled an eye-catching crop of four signees. And for the second straight year, the headliner is a top-20 national high school senior.
Willie Warren, a combo guard from Fort Worth, Texas (North Crowley HS), who is ranked as the nation's No. 6 senior by Hoop Scoop Online, No. 12 by Rivals.com and Hoopmasters.com, and No. 15 by ESPN, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Capel and OU. Warren joins fellow high school guard Ray Willis (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake HS), junior college center Orlando Allen (Cincinnati, Ohio/Paris [Texas] JC) and junior college forward Kyle Cannon (Baltimore, Md./San Jacinto [Texas] JC) as recruits who can suit up for the Sooners next year.
"I think it's a very good class," said Capel, who is 4-1 this season as OU's second-year head coach. "We've addressed specific needs we have. I think we've signed four talented players and, just as important, four really good kids who want to be a part of what we're building and want to be a part of this university."
When asked about his philosophy in targeting prospects for the 2008 recruiting class, Capel responded, "No. 1, we wanted to improve our talent. We're not at the maximum of 13 scholarships right now and we'll lose (seniors) Longar (Longar) and David (Godbold) after this season. We knew we needed a couple of guards, a couple of really good guards. We tried to focus on that. And then with Longar being a senior and Taylor (Griffin) being a senior next year, we are going to be losing some post players. So we wanted to add some post depth. We think we were able to accomplish both of those things with the four guys we've signed."
National recruiting analysts have applauded the work of the OU coaching staff.
"Kudos to Coach Capel for getting the huge score in Warren," began Scout.com's Dave Telep. "Clearly, the overall theme for this group is athleticism. Between Warren's penchant for the big play and the two complementary frontcourt guys, it's a diverse collection that continues to add depth that fits OU's style."
ESPN recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said the addition of Warren significantly bolstered the stature of Oklahoma's recruiting class.
"I think Willie's signing elevates OU's class into the national top 20," said Gibbons, "and I've got them right behind Kansas for the best class in the Big 12 right now."
Capel was quick to express his gratitude to the university community for its assistance during the recruitment of the four signees.
"I really want to thank the University of Oklahoma and all of the many people who were instrumental in helping us attract these young men to the Sooner family," he said. "From the academic support people, to the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, to all of the different schools on campus and people who helped - I really want to thank OU for making Willie, Ray, Kyle and Orlando feel like this is the place for them."
ORLANDO ALLEN (6-11, 270, C, Cincinnati, Ohio, Paris [Texas] JC)
Orlando Allen is a 6-11, 270-pound center who attended Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He committed to Seton Hall out of high school but instead headed to junior college when the Pirates made a head coaching change. Allen wound up at Paris (Texas) Junior College and last year as a freshman averaged 1.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in limited action for a sophomore-laden team that finished 26-5 overall and 19-3 in conference play. Three Paris players averaged double figures in points while four more averaged at least eight per contest. Allen also missed eight games due to injury. After a strong showing at Jerry Mullen's Top 120 Junior College Prospects Showcase in Tulsa, Okla., in July, Allen became a hot commodity. He is rated by Rivals.com as the Big 12 Conference's top center prospect (junior college or high school) that has signed in the early period.
OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON ORLANDO ALLEN:
"Orlando's a huge kid. He's 6-11 and 270 pounds. We think his best basketball is ahead of him. We saw him when he first got to Paris Junior College and we've followed him since. It was amazing to see how much better he got and how hard he worked to get himself into better shape and to become a high-level player. We think his future is really bright. He's already ready to defend at this level because of how big and long he is. He didn't start playing until ninth grade, so he's not as far along offensively as he will be. But he's really skilled and we think he'll be able to make a quick jump to becoming effective on that end of the court."
JUNIOR COLLEGE RECRUITING ANALYST JERRY MULLEN ON ORLANDO ALLEN:
"He's a big man with a big body and great mitts. His best basketball is ahead of him. He lost a lot of weight and changed his body from last spring to the summer. He's a late developer but could be a real sleeper."
JUNIOR COLLEGE RECRUITING ANALYST MIKE MITCHELL ON ORLANDO ALLEN:
"Orlando has a lot of upside. He's probably still at the prospect stage right now as opposed to the player stage. But the guy is huge. He's a good runner, he shows glimpses offensively. He's just at a stage right now where he doesn't put four, five, six, seven good possessions together. He's still learning and could really benefit from a redshirt year. But Orlando is a guy who was heavily recruited because of his size and because of his potential."
KYLE CANNON (6-8, 230, F, Baltimore, Md., San Jacinto [Texas] JC)
Kyle Cannon, a sophomore at San Jacinto Junior College, is a member of the 10-person 2007 first-team National Junior College Athletic Association Preseason All-America squad. The forward, who originally hails from Baltimore, Md., and prepped at Worcester (Mass.) Academy, is also ranked as a top-10 national juco player by Mike Mitchell of Midwest Scouting Service. Last year, Cannon averaged 16.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game for the 23-8 Ravens, despite suffering a fractured hand early in the season.
OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON KYLE CANNON:
"We noticed Kyle this summer and started recruiting him then. He's 6-8 1/2, about 230 pounds and strong. He's a really skilled 4 man. He shoots it, he handles it, he's a good passer. We think he'll be a very good complement to the post players we'll have returning next year. He'll be a guy who can come in and impact our program immediately."
JUNIOR COLLEGE RECRUITING ANALYST JERRY MULLEN ON KYLE CANNON:
"Kyle's a very crafty player who can score inside and out. He has a knack for scoring over bigger people and is just a really smart player."
JUNIOR COLLEGE RECRUITING ANALYST MIKE MITCHELL ON KYLE CANNON:
"Kyle is a very high juco recruit. I have him in my top six or seven in the country. I guess you categorize him as a 4. He's a very versatile and skilled offensive player. Skill wise, I guess he can almost play the 3, but he's got a bigger body. I think he'll be a really good offensive player for Oklahoma because he can score inside and out. He's a threat to the 3-point line. Defensively, he probably needs to guard 4's. He's not going to go out and guard 6-5 jet athletes on the perimeter. But he can guard teams that play step-away 4's, he can guard players in the post area and he might guard some 3's."
WILLIE WARREN (6-4, 190, G, Fort Worth, Texas, North Crowley HS)
One of the most highly touted high school signees in OU history, Willie Warren is a 6-4 scoring guard capable of playing the point and the 2 spot. He is ranked as the nation's No. 6 high school senior by Hoop Scoop Online, No. 12 by Rivals.com, No. 12 by Hoopmasters.com and No. 15 by ESPN. As a junior last year for 29-6 North Crowley High School, Warren averaged 23.2 points, 4.7 assists and 3.2 steals per contest while playing mostly as a shooting guard. Well-built physically, he performed exceptionally well on the AAU circuit this past summer for his Team Texas squad.
OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON WILLIE WARREN:
"Willie's a special player. He's one of the best guards in the country. I think he's the best, especially from seeing him this summer and how he scored the ball. He's a big, big-time playmaker. I consider him a lead guard and he can do so much. He can score with the best of them, he's already got a college-ready body and he loves to compete. He has the potential to be a lockdown defender, he can shoot it with range and he's as explosive a guard as there is in this class. We're really excited, really thrilled to have him join the Sooner family and we think he has the chance to come in and make a big-time contribution."
NORTH CROWLEY HIGH SCHOOL SCHOOL HEAD COACH TOMMY BRAKEL ON WILLIE WARREN:
"Willie's a really good offensive player right now who can score in a variety of ways. He's got a great physical build, uses his body well in traffic, can finish in the paint and get to the free throw line. He's probably the best perimeter shooter we've had here at North Crowley. He has the school record for most 3-pointers in a career, and that's before he started his senior year. He's going to be a pretty good offensive player (at Oklahoma) immediately. Defensively, he has a lot of the tools that it's going to take to be a good Big 12 defender. He needs to be able to implement those on a more regular basis, but he's started working on a commitment to the defensive end of the floor this year."
ESPN RECRUITING ANALYST BOB GIBBONS ON WILLIE WARREN:
"Willie Warren is a banner addition for Coach Capel and Oklahoma. Willie was probably the best scorer that I saw this past summer, both at the LeBron James Skills Academy and playing with Team Texas in the AAU Tournaments I saw - particularly at the Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga. He's an instinctive scorer and has a good chance to be a McDonald's All-American with another blowout year at North Crowley. If good fortune smiles and Blake Griffin sticks around another year, which hopefully he will, that could make for a dynamite inside-outside duo for Coach Capel."
SCOUT.COM RECRUITING ANALYST DAVE TELEP ON WILLIE WARREN:
"No question, Willie's proved himself as one of the top scoring threats in high school basketball. He's a supreme offensive talent."
RAY WILLIS (6-6, 185, G, Atlanta, Ga., Westlake HS)
Long and athletic, Ray Willis is a versatile guard from Atlanta, Ga., who plays both at the point and on the wing in high school. The 6-6 Westlake High School product is averaging 29.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists through the team's first two games this season. Willis, who moved to Atlanta from Orlando, Fla., over the summer, played for Dr. Phillips High School last year as a junior. He averaged 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds a game to help the Panthers to the Class 6A state championship game (they lost 80-77 in overtime to Blanche Ely High School). Willis was a a first-team All-Metro Conference selection and a second-team All-Central Florida pick. Born in Tulsa, Okla., he is rated as a three-star talent by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.
OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON RAY WILLIS:
"Ray is a talented young man, a guy who kind of flew under the radar for the longest time but really started to make a name for himself in the spring and summer. We were very fortunate in that we had already been recruiting him for a little bit. Ray also has Oklahoma roots. He and some of his family lived in Tulsa for a while. He's a 6-6 wing guy who is really skilled in terms of handling and shooting the basketball. I think he has a good feel and he loves to compete. He really, really loves to compete and play, which is something I love about him. He'll bring versatility to our backcourt. He's long and athletic and has the chance to be a very good basketball player."
WESTLAKE HIGH SCHOOL HEAD COACH DARREN ROGERS ON RAY WILLIS:
"Ray is a multi-dimensional guard who I'm playing at the point. He has a very good basketball I.Q., he's an excellent shooter and he's tenacious going to the basket. In our first game this year, he scored 38 points, had 11 rebounds and eight assists against a box-and-one defense. In our second game, he had 20 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. He plays above the rim and can dunk it on you with his left or right hand. He can create his own shot, he can shoot the 3 well and he has a really good mid-range game. He plays good on-the-ball defense. Ray's a good teammate and will do things to make those around him better. He's a funny guy and he's bright. He's a basketball fanatic. He's always trying to get more time in the gym - he doesn't want to leave.
"He's slim, but he's deceptively tough. He's rangy and long, but he's quick for his height. Some people will let that slim body fool them, and then he'll get 35 or 40 on them. In the game when he scored 38, he only made two jump shots. The rest of his points came in the paint, on dunks or at the free throw line. He was 18-for-19 on free throws."
ESPN RECRUITING ANALYST BOB GIBBONS ON RAY WILLIS:
"Ray Willis, I think it's all ahead of him. He's not as nationally acclaimed as Willie Warren, but I think he has unlimited potential. He's an exceptionally gifted athlete and he'll make his mark his senior year. He'll probably end up being a top 100, or close to it, high school senior this year."