Former Oklahoma standout Ashley Paris has seen plenty of the top guards come through for the Sooners both during and after her time in Norman.
So when she heaps praise on Sooners signee Gioya Carter of Carl Albert, it means something.
“I feel like she has the potential to be one of the best guards ever to go through the University of Oklahoma,” Paris said. “She has a lot of the traits that you look for there.”
Paris got an up-close look at Carter over the summer, helping coach her AAU team.
Carter credited working with Paris for part of her improvement over the summer.
That improvement led to Carter carrying the Titans to their ninth consecutive state tournament. Now, Carter is The Oklahoman's Super 5 Player of the Year.
“Gioya grew up a ton over the last half of her junior year, leading into this year,” Carl Albert coach Tim Price said. “She got comfortable trying to take over a game. She didn't feel like she needed to be a facilitator all the time.
“She decided she was capable and willing to try to score any time our team needed it.”
Carter did that repeatedly.
Against eventual Class 6A champion Tulsa Washington in the Lady Jag Classic in early January, Carter scored 12 points in the first quarter — all on 3-pointers — although the Titans eventually lost by three.
In the area consolation finals against Lawton MacArthur, Carter hit a free throw in the closing seconds to put Carl Albert ahead, intentionally missed the second try, then had a steal to keep the Highlanders from a final scoring chance.
Then in the first round of the state tournament against Tahlequah, Carter hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 25 seconds of the third quarter to put Carl Albert up six and send them to an eventual win.
“There are so many times that she made individual plays for us — whether it was hitting a 3, going on a two-on-one fast break and making a behind-the-back pass or in a lot of other ways,” Price said. “It just kind of got to the point where I was never surprised. By the time her senior year rolled around, we sort of expected it.
“It's going to be one of those things where we don't know what we had until we have to play without it.”
Still, Carter has things that she wants to improve in her game as she moves on to play for the Sooners.
“I've been working a lot on my jumper off the dribble,” she said. “I was doing it but kind of got away from it a little bit this year. The main other thing is my ball handling. It's OK but I'd like to be a lot better.”
Carter will fit in well with Sherri Coale's offense at OU, Paris said.
“The head coach of our team runs a lot of the same offense that Coach Coale uses,” Paris said. “As much as I could, knowing what she was going to be doing, I tried to help her understand what we were doing and what she'll do at OU.
“She's one of the most competitive players I've ever seen in my life. I think she's going to mean a lot to the University of Oklahoma.”