The Oklahoma basketball program knew it was getting a shot in the arm Thursday with the commitment of Edmond (Okla.) Memorial's four-star point guard Jordan Woodard.
Woodard made his commitment official Thursday afternoon. But Lon Kruger and the rest of the staff can also celebrate nabbing the first 2014 commitment.
Kruger has been adamant about keeping the top in-state recruits home and has done it again in junior power forward Jacob Hammond (Duncan, Okla./Oklahoma City Sky). Hammond, who is 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds, committed a couple of hours before Woodard made things official.
Honest and loyal have been two words used the most when recruits talk about Kruger. It was the honesty that stood out to Woodard. For Hammond, it turned out it was his loyalty.
"I feel like I have connected real well with the coaches the entire time," Hammond said. "OU was the first school to show interest. They let me know early that they wanted me."
In the last 12 months Hammond has grown two inches and put on more than 20 pounds. He said it was initially difficult for him to learn how to play big. But after a good spring and an even better summer, he is ready to become a low-post threat.
Kruger and staff recognized Hammond's potential early. During the summer months, he rose up the target boards with Oklahoma State and Tulsa, and his stock rose even more in July during the basketball circuit.
Hammond played the pivotal month on the West Coast, saying he wanted a chance to play against other kids besides from Oklahoma and Texas.
Things went better than he expected. He was no longer a regional prospect as schools such as Missouri, Wake Forest and Creighton started to show interest.
However, Hammond said he wanted to stay close to home. And home right now is OU. The Sooners officially made the offer a few weeks ago, Hammond said.
"I love the campus and love being around this atmosphere," Hammond said. "Coach [Lon] Kruger was real excited when I told him."
Hammond grew up in the Dallas area but moved to Oklahoma four years ago. Since the move, he said he has become a Sooners fan. Even though other schools were starting to make their charge and more still might be knocking on his door, he felt confident enough to make his decision.
"I just figured I didn't need to wait," Hammond said. "Now I can focus on what I need to do in order to get better, to work on my game."
He'll be working on his game with a third different school in as many years. He started at Duncan, Okla., and transferred to the OKC Storm Homeschool team last season. That team also featured 2015 OU offer Allonzo Trier, who has since transferred to Tulsa (Okla.) NOAH Homeschool.
Now Hammond's latest stop is with the Oklahoma City Sky, a first-year homeschool program.
"We're very excited about things right now," Hammond said. "We're practicing hard and getting ready for the season. We're still trying to finalize things, but it's coming along well."
Woodard was a common face around OU in the last 12 months, but Hammond has actually been around the campus even more than Woodard.
He made several unofficial visits last season and camped at OU in June. The coaching staff was able to see firsthand the strides Hammond's game has made during that three-day camp.
"OU was the school I've wanted to go to for a while," Hammond said. "Now it's a reality."