Roethlisberger picked hoops over volleyball

The latest outstanding prospect to commit to play for Sherri Coale and the Oklahoma Sooner Women's Basketball team is Carlee Roethlisberger, a 6-foot-0 wing from Findlay, Ohio. Roethlisberger chose the Sooners over Nebraska (volleyball) and Michigan State, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Duke in basketball.

The latest outstanding prospect to commit to play for Sherri Coale and the Oklahoma Sooner Women's Basketball team is Carlee Roethlisberger, a 6-foot-0 wing from Findlay, Ohio. Roethlisberger follows point guard Jenny Vining, a 5-foot9 guard from Marshall, Ark., as commitments towards the 2007 class.

Roethlisberger chose the Sooners over Nebraska (volleyball) and Michigan State, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Duke in basketball. On Thursday, Roethlisberger and her Coach at Findley High, Connie Lyon, were on Sports Morning on the Sports Animal with Bob Barry Jr. and me to talk about Roethlisberger's decision to be a Sooner.

BBJ: Carlee, talk everybody through that process. Why did you decide that Oklahoma will be the place for you in a year?

CR: "Just recently I had taken a visit to Norman and as soon as I stepped on campus it just felt like home. Coach Coale is awesome and I had lunch with the girls on the team. Actually, the twins (Courtney and Ashley Paris) went around with us all day and I really enjoyed that. Oklahoma is a great program and a great school."

JH: How did you get interested in Oklahoma living in Findlay, Ohio? Is a lot of that due to the national television exposure the Sooners received last year?

CR: "Yeah, just watching how great they did this year, and coach Connie had actually been in contact with coach Coale and I just kind of got hooked up through there."

JH: You are a two-sport star in basketball and volleyball. Is it true your biggest decision, or maybe it was just as big a decision as deciding where to go, was whether or not you were going to play either basketball or volleyball?

CR: "That is true. It actually came down to more of the school. It was really hard to choice between basketball and volleyball because I love both sports. It was really Oklahoma that grabbed my attention and made me decide to play basketball."

JH: So you were looking at some schools for basketball and some for volleyball, and depending on which school you chose that was going to determine which sport you played?

CR: "Yes sir."

BBJ: Coach, describe what kind of basketball player Carlee Roethlisberger is?

Coach Lyon: "Carlee will be a great teammate for any team that she joins. She is a versatile player and a player who has played multiple positions for us here at the high school level. With her versatility, she always brings great leadership and great character. I think one of her greatest attributes, is obviously that of some of the great players that coach Coale recruits, are players with good character and good citizenship."

JH: Hasn't Carlee played all your guard positions since he started on the varsity her freshman year?

Coach Lyon: "She started for us as a freshman and played a little bit of a point guard position for us. She started out there as a freshman for us and then moved to a shooting guard position late in the year. She played the three-position as a sophomore and moved to the four-position last year because that is where we had a void. Her ability and vertical is outstanding. Her ability to rebound and even play with her back to the basket brings that versatility for her as a six-foot guard."

BBJ: So what I am hearing you say coach is that Carlee is the best athlete in the Roethlisberger family?

Coach Lyon: "Her brother (Ben, QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers) would say the same thing."

BBJ: Carlee, do you agree with the fact that Ben really just tried to keep up with your over the years, right?

CR: "Oh, I don't know about that."

BBJ: First things firs, how is your brother doing in his recovery after that motorcycle accident?

CR: "He is doing great! He is at home trying to recover. He is doing well."

BBJ: What was it like growing up in an athletic family? We have followed your brother's football caree a lot, but just talk about the dynamics of you two being very involved in athletics and competing against each other growing up?

CR: "We are about seven years apart, so we weren't real close when he was still at home. My family and I went to all his games through college and we try to get to as many now as we can. Both my parents played basketball, and my brother played basketball here at the high school. It has always been in the family and we always do a little one-on-one in the driveway when he comes home."

JH: Have you grown up always playing against boys to get better on the court?

CR: "Most of the time, yes. I had a lot of guy friends growing up and most of the girls weren't really into sports when I was growing up. So it was always me and the guys out there in the driveway, or me and my brother."

BBJ: You said you got to hang out with the Paris twins on your trip, so what were your impressions of them?

CR: "I think their goal mainly while I was there on that visit was just to get me to Oklahoma. We really didn't get a chance to talk about ourselves too much, but you kind of get intimidated going in there and seeing how big they are. But once you start talking to them and get to know them, they are some of the nicest girls that you will ever meet."

JH: Coach, I am amazed to hear that Carlee played point guard for you as a 6-foot freshman?

Coach Lyon: "We tried her at that position and got her feet wet early as a freshman. We then saw her ability to slash and move from the wing, and she really fit in that two-position. Even with her height, we had a lot of height at the time, and we really didn't need her in that post position area. She had the ability and played a lot of guard in middle school. That really carried over and became a comfortable position for her."

BBJ: I don't know how much you have talked to Coach Coale since you committed, but do you anticipate playing the point at Oklahoma or a small forward position?

CR: "I think I will play probably more of a three or small forward position."

BBJ: Does that suit your game? Are you somebody that likes to pull up and shoot jumpers or do you like to do it all?

CR: "I am working on trying to do it all. Hopefully, I can come in there and provide whatever coach Coale is looking for."

JH: Coach, how would you say that her game is going to fit in at Oklahoma? And what kind of success has she had with your high school team?

Coach Lyon: "Carlee is averaging around 20 points per game, seven rebounds and we really utilized her last year to hit the boards. Her vertical in volleyball has really helped her with that. She was a great asset to our team. Then, to add three to three-and-half steals to her game shows her ability and her quickness and her athleticism. We use Carlee in various positions, but she has the ability to shoot the jumper, she can put her back to the basket and she has worked hard on developing a more consistent 3-point shot.

"Last year, toward the later half of the season, she was averaging 40 percent from 3-point range. For her to shoot it at 40 percent after just developing that shot was something and I am really looking forward for her to continue that, and to have that ability to carry over for coach Coale if that is what she needs her to do."

BBJ: Carlee, how did you folks react to you wanting to go halfway across the United States to play basketball at OU?

CR: "I think my parents were shocked with it at first, but my mom has family who lives in Kansas about three hours away from Norman. So after visiting with coach Coale and seeing all the other coaches, I think that they are slowly becoming more comfortable. They really feel confident with the coaching staff and that I am going to be all right there."

JH: Are you ready to give up volleyball or could we see you sneak onto the OU volleyball court some time in the future?

CR: "I think I am just going to put all my effort into basketball and give all I can. But I might find a volleyball court somewhere or sometime."

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