Throughout the summer, SoonerSports.com will focus on each of the returning Sooners from Oklahoma men's basketball in a reoccurring feature series, "Commit to the Plan"
Kameron McGusty wasn't shy about his rookie season.
“Last season was very disappointing - not the results we wanted to get,” said McGusty.
Arguably the highlight of Oklahoma's 2016-17 campaign, McGusty put together the most impressive freshman season in the six years of Lon Kruger's tenure in Norman. During conference play, he led the Sooners with 14.4 points per game and shot 30-of-79 (.380) from 3-point range in. He was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention and member of the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team – becoming the first OU freshman to earn either honor since Tommy Mason-Griffin in 2009-10.
But for the 19 year old, the individual accomplishments and accolades meant nothing without the team results, and he's determined to turn the tide in year two.
“One thing we got out of last season was finding areas to improve and I think we know now as a team what we need to work on coming into next season,” said McGusty. “A lot of things I need to work on myself and one of those is helping the team win games. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's one of the key things I'm focusing on for next year.”
McGusty's freshman campaign began as many do, finding his role through limited minutes and adjusting to the college game. In his first 12 games, the Katy, Texas, native averaged 5.7 points in 15.4 minutes. By the time Big 12 play came around, McGusty found his rhythm and strung together 15 consecutive games (Jan. 3 - Feb. 21) of double-digit scoring. His near two months of scoring 10 or more points each game is the longest streak by an OU freshman since Jeff Webster (22) in 1990-91. It's this kind of play and scoring ability he hopes to continue to capitalize on and carry into his sophomore year.
“I just had to get into a groove,” McGusty said of his second-half surge. “I've always been a guy that once I can get into a groove in anything in life I can be really good. So I just had to find myself and learn how to pick and choose spots on the court as a scorer, which is something you have to adjust to. Once you have those adjustments down, everything started to click for me. It affected my offense and my defense. I felt as the season went on my scoring went down a little bit but I picked it up on defense and in my rebounding. Those are the same improvements I plan on bringing into next season.”
After such an impressive freshman debut, what else does McGusty think he can add to his game?
“Defense, rebounding, getting my wind up,” he listed. “We're gonna push the ball this year, we're gonna run. I'm going to have go six or seven possessions full speed up and down the court, ready to catch and shoot and have legs. I'm trying to get my wind up.”
McGusty knows that if wants to reach his goals as a team, the biggest jump he needs to make on the court will require no athletic ability.
“Just being a leader.”
The Sooners, one of the youngest teams in the country last season, will still possess an underclassmen-dominant roster in 2017-18. After displaying his maturity on the court in the heart of his first Big 12 campaign, McGusty is ready to take another step forward in helping lead the team.
“I've been here for a year, I know what it takes,” said McGusty. “Our team knows what it takes. A leader – we need that, we need guys that can lead. I look at this team and don't see just two or three leaders and that's it; I think everybody could lead…You just have to work. At this level everybody is good, everybody can play, shoot, dribble. It's all about how people handle adversity…Work is just the biggest thing. Staying focused and not letting anything get in between you and the love for the game. That's the big key to everything.”
For McGusty and the entire Sooner squad, the struggles of last season have done nothing but provide motivation throughout the grind of summer workouts. He's determined to bring out the full potential in his teammates and himself.
“It's crazy right now,” said McGusty. “Some days after practice you can't even get on a goal to shoot. Just now, I got kicked off the court [because it's so crowded] and had to come into a different gym to shoot because guys are just wanting to get in the gym and work. That's what we need. Last year we had guys that could work but we didn't work enough. That's what I think has changed this year. There's not one day people are missing, everybody is being encouraging. Guys are saying, ‘let's play pickup' or ‘let's go shoot' or ‘let's have a hard lift'. I think guys are starting to realize that work is the biggest thing.”
While the Sooners commit to preparing for next season, don't miss your chance to #Commit to making a difference inside the Lloyd Noble Center. Current season ticket holders can renew their tickets with just a $50 deposit. Fans interested in reserving new season tickets can learn more here.