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May 21, 2011
Loss of Pope leaves hole in roster
While there was plenty of discussion in Hurricane Alley in late April and early May about Pope transferring, it didn't become official until May 20, and the news from TU was short and sweet.
"We wish Bryce well in his future endeavors and hope that he continues his college basketball career and earns his degree," said Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik in the school's release.
Pope played two seasons with the Tulsa basketball team and averaged 5.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in his 67-game career. He started out as a wing and played sparingly as a freshman, showing flashes of his ability. But it was during last season when things started to click.
Due to injuries to other players, Pope was inserted into the starting line-up at point guard against Wichita State on December 21, 2010, and he exploded for a season-high 16 points. He ended up starting 21 games and dished 73 assists, which was the second-highest total on the team.
In his sophomore season, Pope averaged 6.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 32 games. He had season-highs of 11 rebounds at Arizona State and seven assists against SMU. He was still learning, but his height and length were a definite advantage as a guard, and he handled the ball very well for his size.
Tulsa will now have three players next season who play point guard, including Jordan Clarkson. The budding superstar will only be a sophomore, but he is on his way to becoming one of the top players in Conference USA.
Despite missing five games, Clarkson earned nine starts and was the team's third-leading scorer. He finished the season averaging 11.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
It's possible that Clarkson could be even more valuable as a shooting guard, allowing him to focus more on scoring and making plays, but with Pope gone, the options at point guard are limited.
Donte Medder will just be a sophomore and has experience from his freshman season, but that was two seasons ago, which ended with a major knee injury. After healing from surgery, he was ready to make his return early last year against Oklahoma State, but that was unfortunately short-lived. After just five minutes, he injured his knee once again.
Medder should be ready for the 2011-12 season, but it is unknown how the two knee injuries will affect him mentally and physically, and the only other point guard on the roster will be incoming freshman Eric McClellan.
Tulsa could also be thin on the wing, where Pope started out as a freshman. 6-foot-4 junior sharpshooter Scottie Haralson can play there, as can 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Tim Peete. Clarkson and starting power forward Joe Richard could both fill the spot in a pinch, but super-athletic incoming 6-foot-7 freshman Rashad Smith may be a good fit.
Tulsa does have a scholarship available and can hopefully fill it with someone to help at either the point guard or small forward spots. However, that will be difficult with it being very late in the recruiting process, so it wouldn't be a shock to see them hold on to the scholarship.
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