Where does incoming freshman Khadeem Lattin fit in with an Oklahoma roster that’s looking to compete for the Big 12 Championship next season?
Well, to be honest, the saying “only time will tell” holds true in the case of the 6’9”, 200-pound center — or at least that’s what he’s listed as. For those of you who have seen Lattin play, you’re probably aware that he’s the farthest thing from your traditional post presence, much less being labeled as a center.
Despite being only 6’9”, which is below average height for your conventional center, Lattin will be the second tallest player on the Sooners’ roster, behind fellow incoming freshman Jamuni McNease. Oklahoma’s lack of true size would appear to force Lattin to be thrown into the harsh world of D1 college basketball and bang bodies night in and night out with future NBA starters, but this simply isn’t a feasible option given his unorthodox skill set.
So as I earlier mentioned, at 200 pounds, which is a generous weight to list Lattin at, he would be extremely undersized if he was forced onto the low-block and should be kept away from it for a multitude of reasons. First of all, Oklahoma has Ryan Sprangler whom, although he’s far from your traditional center as well, has toughness and tenacity around the rim that makes him a much better option than Lattin.
Considering his complete lack of post moves, extremely slender stature and evident size disadvantage, from there, head coach Lon Kruger should look to fixate Lattin in the power forward position, where he could play a stretch forward role, just as Cameron Clark did last season.
From this position, Lattin’s size would no longer be such a glaring disadvantage and he would be required to bulk up far less than he would as a center. His skill set is tapered towards a stretch forward with his ability to hit the elbow jumper with consistency, crash the boards and finish put-back dunks and create for himself off the dribble at times.
But this is not the only place where he would benefit from playing the lesser post position.
As for his defense, playing power forward is where his exceptional defensive prowess would shine brightest. He’s a tremendous shot blocker out to the perimeter and has the quickness to defend both forward spots. His notable rebounding ability could also be better utilized if he isn’t on the block being pushed around by the opposition’s biggest man.
And at the end of the day, the defensive side of the ball is where he will have to make his name regardless, due to the countless offensive weapons the Sooners will have to choose from next season. Shot opportunities for a guy with limited offense will simply be hard to come by.
Of course, due to Oklahoma’s limited size, he will be hung out to dry in the post defending the biggest of bigs at times, but it wouldn’t be wise for Kruger to make him the primary option at center. Looking at the success the Sooners saw last season with an extremely small lineup, it shouldn’t be an issue for Lattin to see the bulk of his minutes as a forward, which is the only place he really fits in an already feeble lineup.