File photo of Aaron Calixte of the University of Maine drives to the basket against Vermont defender Trae Bell-Haynes in 2016. Calixte will use his final year of college basketball eligibility next winter as a graduate transfer at the University of Oklahoma. Credit: University of Maine Athletics

University of Maine guard Aaron Calixte will use his final year of college basketball eligibility next winter as a graduate transfer at the University of Oklahoma.

The 5-foot-11 guard, who returned from a foot injury that limited him to five games during the 2016-17 season to earn All-America East third-team honors as a redshirt junior for the Black Bears this past winter, announced his decision via Twitter shortly after noon on Tuesday.

“First off I would like to thank God for putting me in the position I am in today. Without him none of it would be possible,” Calixte tweeted. “With that being said, I am excited to announce my commitment to Coach Lon Kruger & his staff at the University of Oklahoma!!”

Calixte’s availability under an NCAA rule that allows student-athletes who graduate from one Division I program with a year of athletic eligibility remaining to be immediately eligible to play that final year at another Division I school resulted in a spirited recruiting effort among a host of major college programs.

Calixte ultimately pared the list of suitors to Oklahoma, Florida State, DePaul, Missouri and Grand Canyon University of Phoenix, Arizona, which is coached by former NBA standout Dan Majerle.

Calixte, who was granted a medical redshirt for the 2016-17 season, made the decision to transfer to Oklahoma after visiting the campus last weekend and becomes the third guard to join the Sooners beginning next fall.

Kruger and his staff previously added University of the Pacific graduate transfer Miles Reynolds and four-star Texas high school prospect Jamal Bieniemy to Oklahoma’s backcourt mix.

Oklahoma went 18-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12 Conference last winter before losing to Rhode Island in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Since then, All-American guard Trae Young has decided to enter the NBA draft while backcourt mates Jordan Shepherd and Kameron McGusty also opted to leave the program.

According to several Oklahoma media reports, Calixte is in line to become the Sooners’ starting point guard.

A Stoughton, Massachusetts, product who played prep basketball at Lee Academy before joining the UMaine program, Calixte averaged 16.9 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds this past winter for the Black Bears, who finished 6-26 (3-13 in America East) after falling to Vermont in the first round of the conference playoffs.

He ranked fifth among America East scorers last winter while leading the conference with an .899 free-throw percentage (107 of 119). He also shot 47 percent from the field overall and 38 percent on 3-point attempts.

Calixte also set a University of Maine record this season with 37 consecutive made free throws to break the previous mark of 32 set by Skip Chappelle during the 1960-61 season.

He leaves UMaine as the Black Bears’ career leader in free-throw percentage at .879 after making 204 of 232 tries from the line. Calixte appeared in 97 games with 89 starts during his UMaine career and amassed 1,125 points, the 17th-highest total in Black Bears men’s basketball history.

Calixte will become the second graduate transfer from UMaine to play his final season of college basketball eligibility elsewhere in as many years. Guard Wes Myers moved on to the University of South Carolina for the 2017-18 season and played in all 33 games for the 17-16 Gamecocks with 12 starts. He averaged 7.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per outing.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...