Most Valuable Sooner?

OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson says senior guard Quannas White is the glue that holds the Sooners together. White (pictured left) makes a pass during Oklahoma's 77-70 win over Kansas last Sunday in Norman. White's 19 points were to key to the Sooners win over the first-place Jayhawks

Norman, Okla. – Oklahoma's backcourt duo of Hollis Price and Quannas White couldn't be more different.

Price has the game and smile that has made him the posterboy for Oklahoma basketball, while White rarely leads the Sooners in scoring or grabs the attention of the fans and media. White probably isn't going to grace any all-conference teams or even play professional basketball when his career is over at Oklahoma.

Price gets all the press clippings, while White quietly runs the show and sets up win after win. But don't tell Kelvin Sampson that Price is more important than White, because the OU head coach will tell you otherwise.

"Our best player is Hollis Price," said Sampson. "I think it's important to know who your best player is, but our most valuable player is Quannas."

"He's just not worried about anything other than winning," Sampson continued. "He's just a great college point guard. His biggest goals are to help your team win."

That's high praise for a kid who is only the fourth-leading scorer for the Sooners.

Heading into tonight's Big 12 conference game with Nebraska, White has done nothing but guide the Sooners to a 51-10 record since his arrival in Norman last season.

The numbers don't lie. White has been a success since he first stepped on campus. And it didn't take long for Sampson to realize what he had in his new point guard.

Sampson recalls walking into the locker room after OU's second round loss in the Preseason NIT to Michigan State, just two games into White's junior season. Sampson was pacing back and forth trying to find the words to say to his team after a tough loss, but White beat him to the punch.

"Quannas just erupted," Sampson recalled. 'He got up, tore his jersey off, threw it and said, "I didn't come here to lose.' I've had kids do that in the past because they thought that was what they were supposed to do, but with Quannas that was a sincere reaction."

"That was the first time anybody in that room had seen him upset about anything. That told me right there that kid was a tremendous, tremendous competitor."

White's competitiveness and unselfish play at the point helped lead Oklahoma to their first Final Four appearance since 1988 last year. White was OU's floor general. He played tough defense, took care of the ball and ran the offense. That's all he was asked to do.

"Last year he was intent with throwing it inside to Aaron (McGhee) and then receiving it on kick-outs. He didn't really look for it," said Sampson, on White's three-point abilities."

"Quannas has always been a great three-point shooter, but with Ebi struggling this year we've really got on Quannas a lot to look for his shot quicker."

With his newfound scoring mentality, White is averaging 10.3 ppg in Big 12 play, two more points than in non-conference play. White is also shooting lights out from behind the three-point line, hitting an astounding 50 percent (23-of-46) of his trey attempts in Big 12 play.

White has definitely responded to Sampson's plea to take more shots, and that was evident during his breakout performance in OU's 63-58 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock back on February 15.

"He absolutely willed that team to win that day," said Sampson on White, who scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished six assists against the Red Raiders. "You always want your team or players to impose themselves on the matchup. Quannas White imposed his will on that day and was the reason we won that road game. It was probably our most important game of the year."

And White didn't stop there. Just eight days later he buried all four of his three-point attempts and scored 19 points in the Sooners' 77-70 win over No. 6 Kansas in Norman.

"I can't imagine what we'd be like without a guy like Quannas," Sampson said. "He's the glue that holds our team together. I can't imagine what we'd be like without a guy like Quannas."

Sampson is going to have to wait until next year to find out what that will be like, but if his Sooners are going to make a return trip to the Final Four they'll need White to bring the same glue to the NCAA tournament he's been using over the last five games.

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