NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma sophomore Courtney Paris was named 2007 Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year on Friday afternoon in the official announcement of the Phillips 66 All-Big 12 Conference Women’s Basketball Awards. Paris was also named to the All Big 12 First Team and the Big 12 All-Defensive Team.
"Courtney has just had a remarkable season," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "Everyone at the close of her freshman year was saying, yeah let’s see if she can do that when everyone knows about her and no is surprised by her.’ I heard all the sophomore slumps and terror alerts and they just dissipated because she is better than she was last year. Her numbers are better and we certainly thought she would be better. It is still hard to predict the type of numbers she puts up because they are so incomprehensible. The longer you are in the game, the tougher it is to digest that. Her consistency is almost beyond comprehension. I think people appreciate the fact that she is more than just a scorer or rebounder, she impacts every phase of the game.”
It marks the fourth time that the Big 12 Player of the Year award has been given to a Sooner. Stacey Dales won it in consecutive years, 2001 and 2002, while Phylesha Whaley claimed it in 2000. Paris repeated as defender of the year, after sharing the honor with Baylor’s Abiola Wabara last season. She also repeated as an All-Big 12 First Team and All-Big 12 Defensive Team selection.
Paris leads the Big 12 in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots for all games and conference-only games. Her season statistics are 24.0 ppg, 16.0 rpg and 3.41 bpg. She improved her numbers in Big 12-only games to 24.3 ppg, 16.5 rpg and 3.75 bpg. The 6-4 sophomore center has scored 30-plus points in five games this season and over 40 in two games, including a Big 12 season-high 43 points vs. New Mexico (12/30/06). Paris has scored 20 or more points in 19 games in 2006-07 and grabbed at least 20 rebounds in three. The Piedmont, Calif., native registered a double-double in all 28 season games to date.
“I’m really excited ," said Paris. "I have never won (Big 12) player of the year. We have a great conference with a lot of great players, so to stand out and have the coaches vote for me as conference player of the year is a very humbling thing.”
Thompson is averaging 6.2 points and 5.3 rebounds this season. She has worked her way into the starting lineup in four of the last five games, which has coincided with OU’s current five game winning streak.
"It's a great achievement," said Thompson. "I'm a little surprised, but that is what it comes down to when you put in the extra effort to work hard every day."
For Higgins and Welch, it is the second consecutive season they have been honorable mention selections. Rush was
Paris and the Sooners enter the postseason on roll. OU won its final five regular season games to claim its second consecutive Big 12 Regular Season Championship. OU shared the title with Texas A&M and enters the Phillips 66 BIg 12 Championship as the No. 2 seed.
OU has a first round bye from action on Tuesday, March 6,when No. 7-seed Texas and No. 10-Missouri will face off for the right to meet the Sooners in the quarterfinals.
The Sooners will meet either the Tigers or the Longhorns on Wednesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. at the Cox Center. The game will be broadcast nationally by FSN.
OU split the season series with Texas, winning in Norman and losing in Austin. The Sooners defeated Missouri, 72-57, four days ago at the Lloyd Noble Center.
OU won the 2006 Big 12 Championship with wins over Iowa State, Missouri and Baylor. Last season’s event was held in Dallas at Reunion Arena. This season marks the first time OU has been a No. 2 seed in the tournament.
A limited amount of All-Session tickets remain and can be purchased through the OU Athletics Ticket Office by calling 1-800-456-GoOU.