Introducing: Aaron Calixte
Lon Kruger knows a thing or two about point guards.
As a college player, Kruger ran the point on back-to-back Big Eight championship squads at Kansas State before being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. As a coach, he has guided two of OU's last three starting point guards towards hearing their names called on draft night.
A season after Trae Young became the first college player to lead the nation in scoring and assists, Kruger now eyes a different kind of one-and-done player to help lead the Sooners at the point guard position.
Aaron Calixte comes to Oklahoma as a graduate transfer from Maine, allowing him to play immediately for his final season of college competition. His junior season (2016-17) was cut short after only five games due to a season ending injury, yet he was able to stay on task academically and graduate in four years.
The 23-year old brings almost 100 games of Division I experience to Norman, but he has yet to qualify for an NCAA Tournament. With one last shot at the Big Dance, Calixte has the postseason at the front of his mind heading into his lone campaign on Kruger's crew.
“I'm a grad transfer, so I only have one year and I want to make it count,” said Calixte. “My mindset going into this year is definitely to get to the tournament. Not just make it to the tournament, but make a deep run in the tournament. I haven't played in the tournament up to this point in my career, so that's the biggest challenge for me and I'm going to put that on my teammates as well.”
A 5-11 guard from 20 miles outside of Boston, Calixte scored 1,125 points in 97 career games with the Black Bears and enters his final season with career averages of 11.6 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 30.3 minutes. A prolific free throw shooter, he has shot 82 percent or better from the charity stripe in each collegiate season, boasting a career average of 88.3 percent.
Last season, Calixte averaged 16.9 points (19.3 in conference play), 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds and was named to the All-America East Third Team. By shooting 89.9 percent from the foul line, he ranked ninth in the nation and first in his conference for free throw shooting.
“Aaron is a great young man,” said Kruger. “A lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, really excited about being here. Had a good career up at Maine and we’re excited about the timing of him coming in and providing great leadership at the point. Really quick offensively and pushes the ball in transition, a scoring point guard - which we really like in our program - and is very active, very aggressive on the defensive end.”
For Calixte, his decision on where to transfer came down to need – and after Young decided to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA, the Sooners needed an experienced point guard to come in and guide a core of existing players.
“The most important thing for me was opportunity,” said Calixte. “Coming here, and (OU) needing a point guard, a guard to lead - I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to come in and get to showcase my talents at this level. I felt like it was the best fit for me…I think with me being an older guard, I come with experience and leadership, so I think I'll be able to help the team out in that sense.”