NORMAN — It’s been nearly two years since Amath M’Baye played in an official college basketball game. Since then everything has changed.
He’s left Wyoming for Oklahoma, added muscle to his lean 6-foot-9 frame.
The obscurity of playing in the Mountain West has been replaced with the bright lights of the Big 12 Conference.
M’Baye is also projected as the final piece that allows the Sooners to end a three-year NCAA Tournament drought.
That’s a lot of weight for any player to carry. But the junior from France doesn’t seem to mind.
“High expectations mean you’ve been doing a good job of doing what you do, so that’s the way I see it. I see it with a lot of pride,” he said. “I’m really excited people expect a lot from me. It’s a lot of pressure, but there is always going to be pressure for me in this world of basketball in college, or once you become a pro. You just have to focus on your game and helping your team the best way you can.”
M’Baye brings physical attributes OU has lacked the last two seasons. There isn’t one specific area that limited it to a 15-16 season. The Sooners had a lot of holes.
Nevertheless, adding a forward, who can score (12.0 points a game as a sophomore in 2011 at Wyoming), rebound (5.7 boards a game that season) and block shots (one a game), helps plug a lot of them. Players and coaches raved about M’Baye’s potential while he spent last season playing on the scout team due to NCAA transfer rules.
“Amath brings versatility, a great motor, great energy, (the ability to run) the floor and effort to the board. He’s just engaged all the time,” said OU coach Lon Kruger, who is entering his second season. “When you think about a player like that, and you get that many minutes that he’s going to play on the floor at that high level of competitiveness and engagement and productivity; that’s a big boost right off the top.”