On Sunday, Northern Oklahoma College basketball standout Ty Lazenby was contacted by the University of Oklahoma basketball team about a potential visit. By Friday, he was committed to be a Sooner.
Boomer Sooner!! ⚪️🔴⚪️🔴 pic.twitter.com/abRCP0jWgA
— Ty Lazenby (@Lazenby_20) April 21, 2017
“Well, we met (Friday) morning at the hotel and got breakfast," Lazenby recalled, "Coach (Kruger) said that he wanted me and that they were going to offer me. I was sure I wanted to be there, but I had a visit planned (to Utah), so it made it kind of tough.”
Lazenby held offers from Charlotte, Penn State, Texas Tech, and Utah. However, the overwhelming feeling that he already knew where he wanted to attend college caused Lazenby to reach out to all of the coaches from those schools to let them know of his decision before it became public.
Afterwards, Lazenby was able to make a more exciting phone call.
“On our drive back home I said ‘screw it’ and called Coach Kruger and told him that I was going to commit.”
The Sooners sold the 6-foot-5 Lazenby on him being a unique piece that should find plenty of space for shots with Trae Young, Kameron McGusty, and Kruger’s wide open style of play.
“They said they don’t have a guy that plays like I do. I’m not as much of a slasher. I guess you could say I’m just a scorer.”
Lazenby was named NJCAA first team All-American a year ago by averaging 22.9 points per game – shooting 35.9% from three and 86.4% from the free throw line. In the first round of the NJCAA tournament, Lazenby scored 40 points in a 95-90 upset win over No. 2 seed Southern Idaho.
The rapidity with which his recruitment accelerated may fool you into believing this has been a quick and easy process for the Northern Oklahoma College sharp-shooter, but it’s only part of a journey that began long ago.
Lazenby was a star at class-A Glencoe, whose population of 600 is smaller than Dale Hall during finals week. He led the Panthers to three-consecutive state titles and was named the tournament’s most valuable player in each of their championship runs.
Despite the lack of exposure playing in such a small town, Lazenby was offered an opportunity to fulfill his dream of playing division-one basketball for the University of North Dakota.
“Coming from a class-A school. Very few people even get to play division-one basketball."
Just as everything looked to be coming together for Lazenby, it all came crashing down.
Lazenby’s mother, Jennifer, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ty, choosing to be closer to home, decided to play at Enid’s Northern Oklahoma College instead of nearly 1,000 miles north in Grand Forks (N.D.), nestled next to the Canadian border.
Jennifer was able to watch as her son continued to succeed on the basketball court, becoming one of junior college’s top scoring threats.
Tragically, before Ty’s last season at NOC, Jennifer passed away. That devastation can understandably shake anyone to the core and it forced Lazenby to question if he could continue his basketball career.
“There definitely was a point I didn’t even want to play anymore.”
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It was difficult for Lazenby to focus on his basketball dreams while the person he loved most was gone. Although, while looking inward, Lazenby found a familiar feeling that encouraged him to persevere.
“My mom she was the best person I ever met. Losing her it hurt really badly, but in a way it gave me even more drive to keep going. There’s something there and I know that she’s there watching me and I know what she wants me to do. And that’s driving me.”
That drive has pushed Lazenby down a path that has finally culminated in his dream of playing division-one basketball. It is a dream that has been cultivated over many years and was sparked by another parent.
“I grew up and my dad was my coach, so there’s something about coaches kids growing up that you’re just in the gym all the time and you develop that shot over 16 years of practice and direction.”
His father, John, the superintendent of Glencoe Public Schools, joined Lazenby on the visit to Norman. Even though John and Lazenby’s mother both attended Oklahoma State, there doesn’t seem to be any question on where the household’s loyalty now lies.
“My dad loves it. It’s close to home, so he’ll be able to come watch a lot of the games. He said he would make an exception for the crimson and cream.”
Even though Lazenby is enjoying the moment of his newfound opportunity, that drive instilled in him by his parents was still palpable when discussing expectations for this team and what fans can expect from their newest Sooner.
“We’re going to try and go win the Big 12. That’s what you got to think. That’s what you got to go do. Just go out and work our butts off in the offseason.”