NORMAN – Ana Llanusa knows the history of the Oklahoma women’s basketball program.
Growing up in nearby Choctaw, Okla., Llanusa remembers coming to comes at Lloyd Noble Center multiples times a season to watch the Sooners, dreaming that one day she could run out on to the home court of her favorite team.
So far this season, she’s had a chance to see her childhood idol, Courtney Paris, have her jersey lifted to the rafters at Lloyd Noble Center on the night of Llanusa’s first collegiate game.
Llanusa had also looked forward to playing in OU’s Play4Kay game this season after watching the Sooners wear special edition Kevin Durant “Aunt Pearl” basketball shoes during her freshman year of high school. That excitement led Llanusa to score 27 points and hit six 3-pointers in the Sooners’ 19-point victory over the West Virginia on Feb. 3.
Llanusa caught the eye of OU’s coaching staff as a freshman at Choctaw High School and built a reputation as the top player in the state in the 2018 signing class.
Llanusa capped off her prep career by leading Choctaw to the Class 6A State Tournament Championship, earning Gatorade State Player of the Year honors and finishing as one of the top scorers in Oklahoma prep history.
As a freshman, Llanusa has been a consistent presence for the Sooners offensively, but has continued to elevate her game as the year progressed. She recently was named the USBWA National Freshman of the Week after averaging 19.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in OU’s wins over Kansas State and West Virginia two weeks ago.
She’s also won Big 12 Freshman of the Week twice and is in a constant back-and-forth battle with teammate Shaina Pellington to finish as the league’s top scorer among all freshmen this season.
But for Llanusa, it’s more about the name that she represents on the front of her jersey. Thinks are now starting to click together on both ends of the floor for a player that wanted to make an immediate impact since the day she arrived on campus.
Read more of our conversation with Llanusa as she talks about her dream to play at OU, how her game as developed as a freshman and what she plans on improving on as her career continues.
On accomplishing her dream of playing at OU:
“I’ve waited literally my whole life to be out here on this court… to put on that jersey. Not many people get that opportunity, especially to play at a school where they have grown up wanting to go. I’m very appreciative of it.”
On the level of competition:
“When you finally get out there, it’s a lot harder than you expect it to be. Everybody is just as good if not better than you. I think the reason for my success is because of my teammates just helping me out during practice, showing me and teaching me their ways, and helping me grow as a player.”
On her mentality:
“I need to be more aggressive and get to the rim because I usually like falling in love with (shooting) 3-pointers … staying out there on the 3-point line. I think that definitely helped out because if I’m getting to the rim, then they don’t know whether I’m going to shoot or if I’m going to the rim.”
On her biggest improvement:
“Just being able to read what shots I should take, like taking better shots. I know that if I miss a couple of (3-pointers) in a row to maybe get to the rim. I think that really helps me out a lot.”
On player development:
“I knew I was going to grow as a player coming here, but I didn’t expect it to be this much. I really have grown as a player and in my basketball IQ. I feel like I have just gotten so much better not only in my basketball IQ, but in my shooting, being able to read defenses, and just knowing what to do out there on the court.”