One-on-one with Courtney Paris

Oklahoma freshman center Courtney Paris talks about her record-breaking rookie season with OUInsider.com. Paris was recently named the Big 12's Player of the Week after leading OU to wins over Texas and Texas A&M. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Courtney Paris has been so good thus far in her freshman year for the University of Oklahoma Women's Basketball team, that she has been called already the best center in the country by some of the best women's coaches in the country. She has also been compared to the great Wayman Tisdale, who was a three-time first team All-American for the Sooner men.

Paris goes into Tuesday's game with Oklahoma State averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds a game. 'CP3' is ranked No. 1 in the country in total rebounds (311), rebounds per game [14.8], double-doubles [18] and consecutive double-doubles [13[. If Paris gets another double-double against the Cowgirls, she will have the longest double-double streak of the season, as she is current tied with Jillian Robbins of Tulsa at 13.

Before the season, OU Head Women's Basketball Coach Sherri Coale told this reporter that Paris had a chance to be the greatest women's college basketball player ever by the time her career was over, and from what we have seen so far the coach is right.

Following practice on Monday, Paris sat down with OUInsider.com to talk about a number of topics.

JH: Right now the Sooners have a two game lead in the Big 12 Conference, but there is still a lot of basketball to play. You have to keep building momentum, don't you?

CP3: "Personally, I couldn't tell you how it all works because it is my first time around. I don't where the season builds up or lets up. I just know that we keep trying to get getting better and we keep trying to build every day trying to take us up to another level. We hope we stay undefeated in conference, as that definitely shows that we are rolling right now."

JH: This team is getting better because your guards are beginning to play better. Against On the road against Baylor, it was Kendra Moore scoring the last eight points. Then the last two games Britney Brown has played well at the point. Against Texas A&M, Laura Andrews came off the bench for 14 points and Chelsi Welch got her shooting touch back with 18. Will this team go as far as the guards will take you?

CP3: "Exactly. I think everybody is stepping up and we have some urgency going into the second half of our season. The second half of our season has snuck up on us and everybody has really done a great job. At this point, this is kind of a new and old team for me and my sister (Ashley) coming in and it changes a lot of things for us. I think we are starting to finally work it all out and really come together."

JH: You sister Ashley is another who in the last five games has begun to play so much better and with so much confidence. Why do you feel she is playing so much better?

CP3: "Once she becomes a little more consistent, she is really going to be tough."

JH: Both of you have had moments where you have dribbled the ball up the court the last couple of games. Ashley did a lot of ball-handling in high school, but you were you bringing the ball up court against Texas A&M. What gives with you as Ashley trying to play point guard?

CP3: "I love to play in the post and I love to play down there and start banging. I mean, occasionally, like in the last game for us, my girl played off of me during a press so I just dribbled the ball past mid-court."

JH: You have great hands which allows you to catch the ball in the post, but I know you don't like to dribble the ball that much. But there are a number of posts in women's basketball that seem to dribble the ball a lot for their teams?

CP3: "I think my hands and ability to catch the ball is one of my strength's. As far as post0dribbling, Tiffany Jackson of Texas plays in the post with guard moves and that gives her so many more options. So, I would like to develop better dribbling skills and better moves in the post because that would give me more options to score."

JH: One thing that is impressive about you is that it doesn't matter who you are going up against, you don't get intimidated. It doesn't matter if you are playing Tiffany Jackson or Sophia Young or whoever. When you take the court you believe you are the best player on the court, don't you?

CP3: "Those players are the players that for the last few years I have been watching when I watched college basketball. I looked up to them. However, now, on the court, I feel like I can compete with anyone. I never take the court and say, ‘oh my gosh that is Tiffany or Sophia.' I respect all those players. They are great."

JH: Have you always had that confidence all your life in basketball? I mean, have you met Lisa Leslie, who is the best center in the world and walked up to her and said to yourself, "Hey, I want to play her?"

CP3: "Yeah, I have met Lisa Leslie and those guys (USA Olympic Team) at basketball events. But, yeah, I am a competitor and that is my competitive nature to want to play against her. I have tons of respect for her, but on the court I feel I can compete with anyone."

JH: Don't you feel it is great you still have an upside? By your own admission, if you just make 80 percent of your free throws you can add five points per game to your average?

CP3: "Oh, definitely. Free throws are a big thing that I can improve on and that would improve my game. There are so many little things that I can improve. I am not going to sit her and act like I am perfect, because I have so many things I need to work on. It is just my freshman season, so I am excited for the future that I have here at Oklahoma."

JH: You have shot your turnaround jumper a few times this season and that looks like a shot that you will develop in time?

CP3: "There are so many things, like even a high post shot from the top of the key or free throw line. In the motion of the game, there are so many things like that that we are working on now. But I am sticking with what I know will work for me now."

JH: Can you palm a women's basketball?

CP3: "Sometimes, but it depends on what kind of ball it is. Each ball that we play with seems to be a little bit different, but most of the time I can palm it."

JH: Won't that be able to help you during your career, because you have such control of the basketball?

CP3: "I agree. And that is just the logic of it all. If you have a bigger hand like I do, it makes everything that you do or I do easier on the court. I definitely think it helps me and I think that is a big advantage for certain players."

JH: The biggest compliment that I have heard Oklahoma fans pay you is when they compare you to Wayman Tisdale. Tisdale had a great freshman year just like you are having and both of you played in the post. How much do you know about Tisdale? Have you heard that much about him?

CP3: "I have heard tons of things about him and it is very humbling to hear that. To me, the Wayman Tisdale kind of players in this program have been Phylesha Whaley and Stacey Dales. And now I have come in after them. I think just the kind of game that we have and the way we can dominate goes hand-and-hand. That is definitely cool that I am compared to him. If my game is anything like his, I will be really happy."

JH: What about Oklahoma State and what they will bring to the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday?

CP3: "I think they are a team looking for their first win, and this is an in-state game and a big rivalry game. You can't take them for granted. They will come in and try to make things happen. We will try to be just as ready as they are."


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