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NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: Cowgirls' LaShawn Jones found success through failure

The All-State pick out of Putnam City High School kept working on her basketball skills — and now she has helped OSU to the Sweet 16.
By Cody Stavenhagen, For The Oklahoman Published: March 27, 2014

STILLWATER — Often frustrated and overwhelmed, LaShawn Jones said her first two basketball seasons at Oklahoma State left her feeling lost.

She didn’t know plays. She had no sense of court geography. Sometimes, she could barely catch a pass.

Jones averaged only 6.6 minutes per game in her first two years combined, sitting behind post players such as Toni Young and Lindsey Keller.

When she did play, there were glimpses of potential from the All-State pick out of Putnam City High School.

But the mental mistakes that kept coaches constantly trying to teach — yelling if that’s what it took to get the message across — persisted.

It was head-scratching in a way. At 6-foot-3 with ridiculous strength and the nickname “Shaq,” she had the tools to be a force. Putting it all together was the hard part.

“In high school, I could just turn and shoot and everything would be OK,” Jones said. “I came (to OSU) and was like, ‘I can just do the same thing.’ No. It didn’t happen like that.”

After Young and Keller graduated in the spring of 2013, OSU coach Jim Littell and his staff called Jones in to talk about her status with the team.

“I don’t think she knew where she fit in or what was expected of her,” Littell said. “We told her that spring, ‘This is your job to lose. When we start the fall, we’re starting you at the five. We’re going to give you every opportunity to either sink or swim on this.’ ”

Jones decided to swim.

After an offseason of working every day with assistant coaches Jack Easley and Bill Annan to the point of frustration, it finally clicked.

“Some days, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, will they get off me?’ ” Jones said. “But I just had to keep telling myself, ‘It’s OK. Everything will be OK.’

“I realized this summer, ‘Like, I got this. I can do this.’ ”

Littell said he knew from the start of the season Jones would be his team’s X-factor. Monday, in the Cowgirls’ second-round NCAA Women’s Tournament win against Purdue, Jones scored 16 points and brought down 12 rebounds. A defining game in an already strong season for Jones, who averages nine points and 5.6 boards in 32 starts.

Saturday, OSU will play undefeated Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

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