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Capel's First Class Ranked 14th
November 09, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. First-year Oklahoma men’s basketball head coach Jeff Capel wasted no time in showcasing his ability to attract top talent to Norman.  Capel and his staff announced Thursday the signing of four high school seniors to national letters of intent.  Headlining the class is top-20 national recruit Blake Griffin.

Joining Griffin, a power forward from Oklahoma City (Oklahoma Christian School), as Sooners next year will be guard Cade Davis (Elk City, Okla./Elk City HS), wing Chris Early (Huntington, W. Va./Huntington HS) and combo guard Tony Neysmith (Norcross, Ga./Norcross HS).

“These four guys, first and foremost, are really good basketball players,” said Capel.  “And they all come from traditions of winning.  A common thread with all four is that none of them are afraid to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  That’s important to me.  All four want to be a part of what we’re doing.”

The class is rated as No. 14 nationally by Rivals.com.

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Said Scout.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep, “I think Jeff Capel and his staff did a really nice job of just getting their feet on the ground and then coming together to hit the home run with Blake Griffin, a legitimate McDonald’s All-American candidate.  I think what Oklahoma did as well as they possibly could was put pieces of the puzzle together.  They brought in guys who are multi-positional and they just hit the absolute home run with Griffin.

“Looking forward, the state of Oklahoma has a bevy of excellent prospects and I think this Sooner class sent a message to the rest of those guys that Oklahoma is really going to be a player in their region.”

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CADE DAVIS
(6-5, 205, G, Elk City, Okla., Elk City HS)
Widely regarded as the second best senior in Oklahoma, Cade Davis is a 6-5, 205-pound guard who boasts athletic ability and is a noted outside shooter.  He is regarded as a three-star recruit (out of five) by Rivals.com and has led Elk City High School in scoring in each of his first three years there.  As a junior, Davis averaged 24.9 points and 8.6 rebounds a game while shooting .430 from 3-point range and .850 from the free throw line.  Elk City finished 22-6 last year but was 21-2 in games which Davis played (he missed five contests with mononucleosis).  The Elks advanced to the Class 4A State Tournament quarterfinals where they lost to eventual champion Bishop McGuinness, 54-50.  Davis scored 30 points in the game.

OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON CADE DAVIS:
“Cade comes from a really good high school basketball team and is well coached.  He’s a disciplined player, a great kid and student.  I think his best basketball is ahead of him.  He has a chance to be a very good player.  He’s athletic, he can really defend, he’s strong, he shoots the ball and has a good basketball I.Q.  On top of all that, he’s the ultimate team guy.”

ELK CITY HIGH SCHOOL HEAD COACH JIM DEATON ON CADE DAVIS:
“I’ve been coaching for 21 years and he’s as close to a complete player as I’ve ever coached.  If you need him to be a defensive stopper, he can do it.  If you need him to make something positive happen offensively, he has that ability.  Then you throw in the fact that he’s a leader.  His actions are what make him an effective leader.  He’s going to do whatever it takes to help get a win and I’m sure he’ll carry that over to OU.

“He’s just been the consummate team player.  For as talented as he is, he’s been our hardest worker on a daily basis and is always trying to improve his game.  He’s a coach’s dream.  He shows up ready to go every day and you very seldom find kids who are that talented and still try to improve.  So many kids already think they’re a complete player, but he never sees himself as that.”

SCOUT.COM RECRUITING ANALYST DAVE TELEP ON CADE DAVIS:
“Cade Davis is the kind of player who is going to do whatever you ask him to do.  Probably his biggest strength will be making open jump shots on the perimeter for Oklahoma.  He’ll be a kid who a guy like Tony Neysmith can drive and kick to.  He’s a chemistry guy for this team and a big piece of their puzzle.”

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CHRIS EARLY
(6-6, 210, G, Huntington, W.Va., Huntington HS)
Chris Early, a three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, has helped his Huntington (W.Va.) High School teams to a combined 49-4 record over the last two years and a pair of Class AAA (the largest class in the state) state titles.  Last year the 6-6 guard averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for a squad that finished 25-2.  Huntington will be among the nation’s top high school teams again in 2006-07.  Early is ranked No. 147 in the class of 2007 by Rivals.com and is regarded by the service as the country’s No. 27 shooting guard.

OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON CHRIS EARLY:
“Chris is a young man I got to know a little bit when I was at VCU.  I wasn’t sure we could get him to VCU because he’s a high-level guy.  When I got to OU, we monitored his progress even more and felt like he was a guy we wanted to be a part of our program.  He’ll be a wing player for us.  He’s a really good athlete with a great body who has his best basketball is ahead of him.  He’s a kid who wants to be really good.  He can shoot the basketball and can score in a variety of ways.  We think he has the chance to be a really good defender, as well.  We’re excited about him.”

HUNTINGTON HIGH SCHOOL HEAD COACH LLOYD McGUFFIN ON CHRIS EARLY:
“Chris is a good open court player and a good scorer.  He can get up and down the court well.  He plays well facing the basket, but he can also play with his back to the basket.  He’s doing a really good job in the classroom and I think he’s going to make a really good college player at Oklahoma.”

SCOUT.COM RECRUITING ANALYST DAVE TELEP ON CHRIS EARLY:
“Chris is a strong, physical player who is in the process of expanding his game so he can play beyond mid-range.  I think he’s a guy who will amount to a utility forward in a really good role at Oklahoma.  He gets out and he defends, he can score a little bit on the perimeter.  And as he gets better, he’ll be a guy who goes off the dribble and attacks the basket.”

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BLAKE GRIFFIN
(6-9, 240, F, Oklahoma City, Okla., Oklahoma Christian School)
The brother of OU sophomore forward Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin is a five-star recruit ranked No. 20 nationally by Scout.com and No. 29 by Rivals.com.   Scout.com also ranks him as the country’s No. 7 power forward while Rivals.com lists him at No. 8.  The 6-9, 240-pound Griffin has helped his three Oklahoma Christian School squads to three state titles and a combined 80-3 record.  Last season he averaged 21.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in leading OCS to a 26-1 mark.  Griffin has been named to the all-tournament squad in each of his team’s tournaments the last two years and was voted the state tournament’s MVP last season.  He was also named to The Oklahoman’s Super Five as a junior.

OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON BLAKE GRIFFIN:
“Blake is the best player in the class we have committed.  He’s one of the best players in the country.  When I first got the job, we zeroed in on him as a guy we had to have in our program.  We were able to work and develop a great relationship with him and one that was built on trust and honesty.  We think Blake’s a difference maker.  We just love all the things he will bring to our program - athletic ability, height, size, toughness, strength and, more important than anything, high character.  He has a chance to be one of the special players in the history of this program.”

OKLAHOMA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL HEAD COACH TOMMY GRIFFIN ON BLAKE GRIFFIN:
“Any position we need covered, Blake can do it.  He’ll run a little bit of point this year.  He’ll play outside, he’ll play with his back to the basket, he’ll help break the press.  He’ll do whatever we need done and he’s capable of that.  He has the skills to be able to handle the ball and pass it.  He’s a pretty good all-around player.  What he’s working on right now is being able to shoot the 3 with a little more proficiency and increase his free throw percentage from the high 60s to the high 70s.  Other than that, he’s pretty complete.  He’ll grow with maturity and his best basketball is ahead of him.”

SCOUT.COM RECRUITING ANALYST DAVE TELEP ON BLAKE GRIFFIN:
“Blake Griffin probably made as many strides as anyone in his class.  He’s one of those kids who will battle you, fight you and do whatever it takes to win basketball games.  He’s one of the bigger movers and shakers in the class of 2007.

“He’s a little deceptively athletic.  His body changed from last year to this year.  He was able to retain some of his perimeter touch and he’s a far better inside player than he was a year ago.  He just looks terrific right now.”

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TONY NEYSMITH
(6-5, 195, G, Norcross, GA., Norcross HS)
Ranked as the nation’s No. 10 point guard and the 84th-best player overall, Tony Neysmith plays for one of the top-10 preseason teams in the country in Norcross (Ga.) High School.  Possessing excellent size for a backcourt player, Neysmith is generally regarded as a combo guard.  He averaged 9.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals for a Norcross team that finished 28-4 last year and won the Georgia 5A state title.  The 6-5, 195-pounder started every game last year and earned all-county honors.  Scout.com ranks him as the country’s No. 22 point guard.

OU HEAD COACH JEFF CAPEL ON TONY NEYSMITH:
“Tony is a guy I’m very excited about.  He’s a 6-5 guard.  I don’t want to say he’s just a point guard and limit him to that.  I envision him playing everywhere.  He has a great feel for the game, is a great decision maker and will be able to handle the ball for us, but because of his great size, athletic ability and versatility, he can play with different guys on the floor.  That excites me.  I think he has a chance to be a great defender not a good defender, a great defender and a guy who can do a lot of things for us.  I’ve always had a versatile guard like him since I’ve been a head coach.”

NORCROSS HIGH SCHOOL HEAD COACH EDDIE MARTIN ON TONY NEYSMITH:
“Tony is an excellent athlete, number one.  He gives us size at the guard spot.  He’s a 6-5 point guard who handles the ball well, sees the floor well and can get to the rim and finish with his strength.  Plus, he’s smart enough to get us set up and into what we run offensively.  On the other end of the floor, he’s probably our best on-the-ball defender.  A lot of times he won’t be guarding the point guard he’ll be guarding the point guard, the wing guard or even the post.  Given his 6-5 frame and overall physical strength, he can play a lot of guys who are a lot bigger than he is.  He’s a well-rounded player who brings a lot of leadership and a great winning attitude.”

SCOUT.COM RECRUITING ANALYST DAVE TELEP ON TONY NEYSMITH:
“Tony Neysmith will probably play a combo guard role at Oklahoma and he comes from a history of winning with his high school program.  He’s a really sturdy, solid guy who will be ready physically to play in the Big 12.”

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