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March 27, 2007

OU signs class of champions

The Oklahoma men's and women's basketball teams both signed recruiting classes to be excited about. The seven current 2007 signees between the two squads combined to win five state championships. There is no question both programs are bringing in players who are accustomed to winning.

The highlight of the Oklahoma men's recruiting class is current McDonald's and Parade All-American Blake Griffin, whom Rivals.com currently ranks as the No. 29 players in the country "and rising."

Griffin is not only one of the top players in the country, but he is the epitome of a winner as he led his team to his fourth consecutive Class 2A state championship.

Griffin took over the state semifinal game against Foyil with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocked shots to lead his team into the finals against Pawnee. The OCS Saints were too much in the finals as Griffin scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead his team to an 81-50 victory.

On the women's side two of the top prospects in the country, who have signed their letter of intent to be Sooners, led their teams to state championships, as well. Archbishop Mitty (Calif) star point guard Danielle Robinson is considered by many to be the top pure point guard in the country. Her athleticism is hard to duplicate both on the offensive and defensive side of the floor.

Robinson led her team to the California Division II championship at Arco Arena last Friday to face heavy favorite Brea-Olinda, with McDonald's All-American and future Stanford Cardinal Jeanette Pohlen. Brea was rated as the sixth team nationally by Sports Illustrated, but Archbishop Mitty captured the championship behind 22 points and eight rebounds by Robinson.

Robinson finished the season averaging 12.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 3.4 steals per game while shooting 83-percent from the free throw line.

The other highly rated woman can be found in Marshall, Ark. star guard Jenny Vining who led her team to the 3A state championship in another surprise upset. Vining led her team with 27 points in the championship game and hit four-of-seven from behind the 3-point line to give her team the victory and earn herself MVP honors.

Vining is considered by some to be the best three-point shooter coming out of high school in the 2007 recruiting class.

Two key roleplayers on state championship teams can be found in Norcross, Georgia point guard Tony Neysmith and Huntington, W.V. forward Chris Early.

Neysmith was a defensive bruiser for his Norcross team, which finished ranked No. 12 in the country with a 29-3 record. His defense and distribution helped his team win their second consecutive Class AAAAA championship.

Early, on the other hand, found his role coming off of the bench to help his team both offensively and defensively. His athleticism was a key to the Huntington Highlanders ability to go 25-2 on the season and finish No. 8 in the country.

Early scored a season high of 17 points against Bridgeport in the semifinals of the tournament. The Highlanders won the Class AAA state championship with a convincing 103-61 victory over South Charleston in the finals to cap off an undefeated record within the state.

Early finished the season averaging nearly 10 points per game off of the bench. His athleticism and instincts are two things many people rave about and he is considered to have great potential as he progresses at the collegiate level.

Another 2007 men's signee includes Elk City, Okla. standout Cade Davis, who was everything to the Elks this season opposite of point guard Matt Jones. Davis and his top-ranked 4A Elk City squad were upset in overtime 67-65 by Victory Christian despite his 37 points.

The loss to Victory Christian in the quarterfinals of the state tournament was their only loss of the season as they finished 24-1.

The seventh current Oklahoma basketball signee of the 2007 class can be found on the women's side in Findlay, Ohio post player Carlee Roethlisberger. She was named co-Player of the Year in the state and led her team to its first ever appearance in the state tournament.

Her team fell one game short of the championship, but she finished the season averaging 22.3 points per game.

Bringing players in from winning programs establishes a different mindset in a team. It does not necessarily bring victory to the program, but it establishes a mindset of champions: a hatred for defeat.

The future, for both programs, appears to be awfully bright.


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