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Oklahoma basketball lands high-profile Louisville transfer

Payton Verhulst, right, entered the transfer portal during a rough start to the season for the Cardinals. (Pat McDonogh/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Payton Verhulst announced her commitment with two words: “Boomer Sooner.”

Just one week after her decision to transfer from Louisville women’s basketball was made public, Verhulst tweeted her next destination, accompanied by a picture of her in an Oklahoma jersey and a graphic reading, “Welcome home Payton Verhulst.”

The sophomore was a sought-after recruit coming out of high school and a solid get for Oklahoma in the transfer portal. Oklahoma’s campus, located in Norman, is just a five-hour drive from Verhulst’s hometown of De Soto, Kansas, compared to the eight-hour trek to Louisville.

Verhulst played her freshman season at Louisville, coming off the bench and recording 11.1 minutes per game, 3.3 points and 19 rebounds. In eight games as a Cardinal this season, the sophomore averaged 15 minutes, 6.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

Oklahoma is 8-1 so far this year and sits at No. 24 in the polls.

While Verhulst will have to sit out the rest of this season, she will be eligible to play for the Sooners in the 2023-24 season.

The 6-1 guard was the No. 12 recruit in the class of 2021 and fielded offers from the country’s top programs, including UConn, Stanford and Notre Dame before committing to Louisville. 

Louisville started the season ranked No. 7 in the country before a rocky start to the season dropped the Cardinals from the AP poll completely.  

A Dec. 4 loss to Middle Tennessee was the low point, and also when Verhulst’s decision was made public.

“She was just looking for some more opportunities to play and then just decided to transfer,” coach Jeff Walz told reporters after the game. “I’ve never been one to force some kid or try and force them to stay. I wasn’t going to do it. We wished her absolutely the best and hope she has great success.”