OU men's basketball: De'Vion Harmon hopes added mid-range makes him — and the Sooners — better offensively
NORMAN — De’Vion Harmon’s freshman season didn’t exactly go the way he had planned.
Harmon expected to come in and have immediate success.
Instead, the OU point guard was in and out of the starting lineup and was wildly inconsistent.
“It was a very up and down year for me,” Harmon said. “It was more downs than ups. But you can’t lose yourself. That’s the biggest thing. I never did lose myself when it was hard. I didn’t lose myself through the whole process.”
And Harmon isn’t losing himself now as he prepared for his sophomore season.
Harmon and the Sooners open their season Wednesday at home against Texas-San Antonio (7 p.m., Fox Sports Oklahoma).
Among the advantages provided by this strange offseason amid the COVID-19 pandemic was more time back at home in Denton, Texas, for Harmon.
Harmon used a lot of that time to go back and review his freshman year in greater depth than he’d otherwise be able to do.
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He watched plenty with his father, Deon, analyzing both the good and the bad.
When I go back, I didn’t have all three levels,” Harmon said. “I had a 3 and I had going all the way to the basket.”
So he focused on adding a mid-range shot to his game.
“That’s bread and butter,” Harmon said. “That’s an easy way if you get that. That’s why you see so many guards in the NBA like Kyrie (Irving), I’m not 7-foot but KD (Kevin Durant) had it, D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) had it, Michael Jordan. It’s an art.
“The mid-range is such a lost art in today’s game.”
While Harmon’s scoring figures to benefit from the addition, it also figures to open up space for his teammates since defenses have to account for him in other areas.
“When that happens, everything kind of opens up,” Harmon said. “The whole floor opens up, not just for me but for my teammates — making plays, making passes, because now I can figure my way around it. I’m excited.”
Harmon was expected to have a major impact for the Sooners immediately
“De’Vion came in with really high expectations,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “Then I think was a little surprised early in the year but to his credit, made the adjustment and figured out what he needed to do and what he needed to work on.”
While Harmon’s offense was a rollercoaster a year ago, shooting 36.4% from the field and 34.3% from behind the 3-point line, he didn’t struggle on the other end.
“He’s going to work hard defensively,” Kruger said. “Terrific on the ball, terrific competitor. But making shots consistently? Last year, I think, was ad adjustment for him getting into the lane and being able to finish plays, whether it be a shot or pass, in a crowd. Made progress in that area (and) I think he’ll continue to do that.”
Another part of Harmon’s offseason was taking time to speak with the biggest Sooners stars in recent years, most notably Buddy Hield.
“What he told me is it’s a lot better to be yourself and fail than be someone else and succeed,” Harmon said. “You’ll get more out of it if it’s just you.
Harmon also spent time working out with Blake Griffin and speaking with Trae Young.
“Those three guys are Sooner greats,” Harmon said. “Their names are etched in history and I want to follow them.”