As the Oklahoma Sooners prepare for the Big 12 Championship, the top high school players in the state are focused on Oklahoma’s biggest basketball prize – the Gold Ball.
Here’s a rundown of this weekend’s action in high school boys’ basketball state tournaments:
Norman North vs. Edmond Memorial
Mustang vs. OKC Putnam City North
Tulsa Union vs. OKC Putnam City West
Edmond North vs. Tulsa Booker T. Washington
When/Where: Thursday’s opening round is at Skiatook with the semifinals and finals schedule to be played at the Mabee Center.
Breakdown: This should be a highly competitive bracket. North Norman lost to Edmond North in the season opener, one of only three losses all season for the Timberwolves. Should both teams reach the state championship, it would be an interesting bookend to the year. In the first round, keep an eye on the Tulsa Union-Putnam City West match-up between the No. 5 and No. 4 ranked teams in the state. Mustang is trying to win back-to-back state championships and has potentially the easiest path. The top half of the bracket includes two teams ranked outside the top-seven. Both Edmond Memorial and Putnam City North made upset runs into the state tournament. But don’t leave out Edmond North, which is ranked as the No. 15 team in the nation by USA Today.
Sooners’ angle: Oklahoma has been keeping on eye on plenty of individuals in the 6A state tournament, but there’s one game that should be highlighted. The first-round contest between Norman North and Edmond Memorial features Oklahoma’s top 2017 target, four-star point guard Trae Young and Oklahoma 2016 signee, Kristian Doolittle, facing off for the final time. Doolittle proved during his senior season that he’s capable of playing on the wing or as a stretch-four at the next level. Young has emerged as one of the best players in the 2017 class nationally. Tulsa Union’s Ethan Chargois has been catching the Sooners’ eye. He’s a four-star post player in the 2017 class.
Tulsa Memorial vs. Southeast
Lawton Eisenhower vs. Pryor
Coweta vs. El Reno
Midwest City Carl Albert vs. Tulsa East Central
When/Where: Thursday’s opening round is at Catoosa with the semifinals and finals schedule to be played at the Mabee Center.
Breakdown: Five of the top ranked teams in Class 5A made it to the state tournament, so the collection of talent isn’t lost. Tulsa Memorial is the top-ranked team, but Southeast might have the best individual player in 6-foot-5 point guard DaShawn McDowell, who is signed with SMU. East Central may be the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, but it is also the only 5A team that beat Memorial this season. It’s a balanced bracket.
Sooners’ angle: The Carl Albert Titans are loaded with guard talent. Point guard Mason Harrell visited the Sooners for the home finale against Baylor. The sophomore is a bit under-sized but possesses really elite quickness. His backcourt mate, Trey Hopkins, has gotten a little bit of interest for Oklahoma as well. He’s much bigger, almost 6-foot-3, but is also just a sophomore. There’s a lot of young talent, but both could become prime targets for the Sooners in the coming years.
Anadarko vs. Chickasha
Harrah vs. Fort Gibson
OKC Douglass vs. Tulsa Victory Christian
Ada vs. Tulsa Central
When/Where: Thursday’s opening round is at Deer Creek with the semifinals and finals schedule to be played at the State Fair Arena.
Breakdown: This is definitely the most loaded state tournament bracket. You’re looking at the top seven teams in 4A and the ninth-ranked team, Fort Gibson. Tulsa Central and Douglass are first and second in OSSAA history for state tournament appearances with a combined 111. Then there’s top-ranked Harrah, which has lost just three games all season by a combined 10 points. Ada has just five losses on the season, three to Harrah. The eight teams in the state tournament have just five combined losses to non-state tournament 4A schools.
Sooners’ angle: There’s a lot to see here for Oklahoma fans. The Sooners’ lone 2017 commit Brady Manek leads Harrah alongside his brother and Oral Roberts signee, Kellen. Oklahoma has been keeping a close eye on 2017 Tulsa Central point guard Elijah Landrum. He’s drawn interest from multiple teams around the Big 12 and has emerged this season. Even for football fans, there’s something to see. Victory Christian senior Jon-Michael Terry has signed with Oklahoma at linebacker.
Tulsa Lincoln Christian vs. Verdigris
Atoka vs. Tahlequah Sequoyah
OKC Heritage Hall vs. Jones
Riverside vs. OKC Centennial
When/Where: Thursday’s opening round is at Yukon with the semifinals and finals schedule to be played at the State Fair Arena.
Breakdown: Of the 51 first-place votes given out in 3A, Heritage Hall owns 40 of them. The Chargers are looking to repeat as state champions this year after winning their first boys’ basketball state title in school history last year. They’ll open play against Jones, which had a losing record this season and started play almost a month late because of a playoffs run in football. Heritage Hall lost only three games this season but never to a 4A school. On the opposite side of the bracket, Verdigris has just one loss in its ledger and has won 24-straight games.
Sooners’ angle: N/A
Pawnee vs. Wright City
Talihina vs. OKC Northeast Academy
Preston vs. Carnegie
Crossings Christian vs. Wewoka
When/Where: Thursday’s opening round is at Mustang with the semifinals and finals schedule to be played at the State Fair Arena.
Breakdown: Preston and Pawnee have long been dominant programs in Class 2A, so its no surprise to see them as the heavy favorites in March once again. They’ve combined for six losses all season, but Preston is accountable for all of those. The Black Bears are one of only two teams still unbeaten. Pawnee, which has won four state titles since 2005, made the state title game six-straight years from 2005 to 2010 – losing out to Blake Griffin and Oklahoma Christian in back-to-back season after OCS dropped down a class. Since then, four different schools have won the title: Northeast, Talihina and Wewoka, which won last year, are all back in the state tournament this season.
Sooners’ angle: N/A