March 3, 2003

By Emily Harris
OU Media Relations

Not many collegiate players are able to play Division I basketball in their hometown surrounded by friends and family, but sophomore guard Lauren Shoush is living the dream.

"It's amazing because I get so much support from my family and friends," said Shoush.

In high school Shoush played for Putnam City North and was named the Daily Oklahoman Big-All City Player of the Year in 2001. She was recruited to play both Division I basketball and soccer at several schools, including Oklahoma State and Tulsa.

"I've lived in the same house my whole life and at first I thought I wanted to get really far away. This is the best for me," said Shoush, who is studying elementary education because of her love for kids.

"OU has a great atmosphere. Here everyone is really one big family."

Family is something that's extremely important to her. At the early age of 13, Shoush lost her mother to cancer. She believes her mother had a positive impact in her life. "My mom was so supportive of me in all of my after school activities. She drove me to all my sporting events mainly because she loved seeing me play. Her death has forced me to live each day for what it's worth and enjoy those precious moments," said Shoush.

Her earliest memories of playing basketball are of her brothers blocking her shots and her father, who was a guard for Southeast Missouri State, practicing with her.

"He was always shooting baskets with me and he knew what it took to make it to the next level," said Shoush.

Her younger sister, Katie, is following in her big sister's footsteps by playing basketball for Putnam City North.

"It's so much fun to watch her. We're so close, she is one of my best friends," said Shoush.

Shoush's teammates can feel her presence by the instant energy and vigor she brings to the basketball court. She's a scrappy player who provides an immediate adrenaline rush for her team.

Her style of play, and not her numbers, has earned her a spot among OU's top five. "I get pretty fired up," Shoush admits. "I play with a lot of heart and emotion. Hopefully it's helping my teammates but at the same time I'm there to make sure everyone's having fun, as well."

Shoush is just beginning to shine on the court. She has established personal bests in 12-of-13 statistical categories and sports a team best 2.0 assists/turnover ratio. The Putman City North graduate has seen improvements in her points (2.7), assists (2.7) and rebounds (2.3) per game since becoming a starter Jan. 27.

"We have a great team. Everyone is going to play and contribute," said Shoush. "It doesn't matter who starts and who doesn't. We are one."

With the loss of last year's seniors, she has learned to be a more vocal and influential leader. She is also stepping up as an even bigger source of motivation.

"This year I have to step up and help. I'm trying to be more of a constant factor and offensive threat. I want to make my mark this year."