Jan. 23, 2003

By Elizabeth Kuhen
OU Media Relations

Junior guard Stephanie Luce was thinking big when she decided to become an OU Sooner after graduating as salutatorian from Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas.

"I wanted to play for a school that was a member of the Big 12 Conference," Luce said. "Big time sports and top academic standards were what set OU apart from the other universities."

OU Assistant Coach Bo Overton recruited Luce. "Bo sold me pretty early in the process," she said. "I liked what the program stood for. When I came up and met the players they were very so different from other teams. There was a strong bond within this program.

"I think our coaches do an incredible job of recruiting people who have chemistry on and off the court. That's something that should never be taken for granted."

Chemistry is something with which Luce is extremely familiar as the 5-6 guard sports a double major in chemistry and philosophy.

Luce's academic success speaks for itself. She was named to the 2002 Academic All-Big 12 first team and has been on the Dean's List, Commissioner's Honor Roll and President's Honor Roll four consecutive semesters. She has also been listed on the Sooner Scholar list each semester at OU.

Luce says she decided to major in chemistry because she came to college with a strong background in the subject. She added the philosophy major for variety.

"I wanted to take classes in a less scientific field," Luce said. "I tried to figure out other classes I could take that would be on the other end of the spectrum, where I'd be meeting different people and having a different class vibe. I took a couple of philosophy classes and I really liked them, so I decided to pick it up."

Trying new things runs in the Luce family as her younger brother, John, tried out for the OU cheer team last year and now supports his sister on the sidelines. "Having John at my games just makes the whole experience so rewarding and comfortable," said Luce. "He is always there if I need him, and it's just cool having my younger brother at my games." The cheer team also accompanied the basketball team to last year's Final Four.

Luce describes the Final Four trip as her greatest basketball experience. "It was a dream," she said.

The dedication and unity exhibited by the Sooners, Luce says, are two ingredients that helped the team advance to the National Championship game last season.

"Everybody decided at the beginning of the season that whatever it took for us to win, we were going to do- no questions asked, no matter what the consequences."

The current Sooners are following last year's success, but with a very different group of players. The personnel may be different, but the dedication remains the same.

"I don't think there is anybody on the team who isn't deteremined to win and carry on the success that was established last year," Luce said.

Luce, along with others, has inherited larger leadership roles within the program. The poing guard is one of only four active players who played in last year's Final Four. Her energy and strong work ethic has her averaging nearly three points, two rebounds and two assists per game in 15 minute a contest. Last year, she played just 5.5 minutes a game.

"I see my role as going in and helping people get where they need to be," said Luce. "It's my responsibility when I'm on the court to make sure we are running the right offense and the correct defense that Coach Coale has called."

Like her chemistry classes, it's up to Luce to find that perfect mixture on the basketball court.