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Capel signs first basketball recruit

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Coach Jeff Capel on Friday announced the signing of his first recruit since he arrived at Oklahoma.

Bobby Maze, a 6-foot-2 guard from The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C., has signed a financial aid agreement and will attend Oklahoma beginning this fall.

``I felt like we needed at least one more guard and a guy that can handle the ball,'' Capel said.

Oklahoma lost its primary ballhandler, Terrell Everett, and fellow seniors Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout from last year's team, which lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Freshman Austin Johnson started 13 games but his development at point guard was limited by injuries.

Capel said he wouldn't characterize Maze as a ``traditional point guard'' but he plans to work with Maze to help him understand the position.

Maze averaged 14 points, five assists and three steals last season and joins Patterson teammate Tony Crocker in Oklahoma's signing class. Forward Keith Clark of Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City has also signed to play for Capel next season.

Capel said he had heard about Maze while he was coaching at Virginia Commonwealth but didn't start pursuing him until after he was hired as Oklahoma's coach in April.

``Honestly, I didn't think he was going to be available because I heard when I was at VCU that there were some pretty good schools involved with him,'' Capel said.

Maze bears some resemblance to Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson and even wears a sleeve on his arm like the NBA player.

``I hope he can play anywhere close to him,'' Capel said.

Capel said he will have to evaluate where all of Oklahoma's players and signees fit as the season draws closer. He said Johnson only resumed practicing this week after an ankle injury limited him toward the end of the season. Capel has reviewed tape of Johnson but thinks it shows only flashes of Johnson's potential when he was fully healthy.

``There really weren't many games where he was healthy,'' Capel said. ``Our game requires your feet and your legs, and it was his ankle. That's where he was hurt.''

With the departure of the three senior leaders, Capel said other players will have a chance to earn bigger roles too. He called it ``as big a summer as any of these guys have had in their lives.''

``There's an incredible opportunity for guys to step in and be the players they say they want to be,'' Capel said.

The Sooners lost three highly regarded recruits after former coach Kelvin Sampson left Oklahoma for Indiana in March. McDonald's All-American guard Scottie Reynolds and forwards Damion James and Jeremy Mayfield all were granted releases from their letters of intent by OU and signed with other schools. Reynolds will play at Villanova, James at Texas and Mayfield at Alabama-Birmingham.

Capel said he didn't panic when the players asked to leave and noted it has become commonplace for signees to transfer from a school when its coach leaves.

``Everything has gone in the right direction since I was hired,'' Capel said. ``A lot was made of the guys that asked for their release (but) that's the climate of college basketball. ... I think too much has been made about the three guys that never wore an Oklahoma uniform and not enough was made about the returning guys.''
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