There are freshmen across the state making an impact on basketball courts nearly every year.
This season, there are freshmen making more than just a small impact for some girls basketball teams across the Oklahoma City metro.
And the focus centers on four girls: Choctaw's Ana Llanusa, Norman's Bethany Franks, Edmond Santa Fe's Jo'Nah Johnson and Classen SAS' Taylor Roberts.
All four are quickly becoming stars. It's a great sign for the sport, and it's great to watch this season.
“It's an interesting group,” Choctaw coach Ryan Maloney said. “It'll be fun to see where this freshman class goes because, yeah, there's some players out there.”
Maloney gets a front-row seat to watching Llanusa each game. The freshman guard has burst onto the scene this season with authority, becoming the jewel of the class in some eyes.
She's averaging nearly 18 points per game, a scary total for a player just learning what she can do at the Class 6A level, and is already garnering interest from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Duke and Tulsa.
“I've learned teamwork and learned a new jumpshot and just working together,” said the soft-spoken Llanusa, who led the Yellowjackets to the John Nobles Invitational title game while averaging 18.3 points per game.
But what makes this group so special?
Maloney said most of the girls play on the same AAU team during the summer, preparing them and improving their skills together.
“They've been playing basketball forever,” he said. “When they step into 6A girls basketball, they've kind of been in this situation before.”
Llanusa has especially been impressive, though she is hardly the only freshman making an impression.
Franks is budding on a young Tigers team with three starting freshman. She is reportedly getting interest from some Division I schools, including Oklahoma.
The thing Norman coach Nichole Copeland loves about her team, too, is the fact it is young with a bright future.
“It is a special class and I think what makes them special is how unaware they are of their talent,” Copeland said. “They just work hard every day and they're a fun group and they mesh really well with Chandler (Coale) and with Taylor (Ely).”
Johnson is naturally a point guard, but on a deep Santa Fe team she often plays the two-guard, letting Denver signee Tamara Lee handle the point guard duties while she continues to develop. Johnson already has offers from Texas A&M — where she visited this weekend — and Tulsa.
Roberts, meanwhile, leads a Classen SAS team trying to make the state tournament for the first time in school history. That took a hit this week, though, when she suffered a broken pinkie Friday. Her coach and father Malcolm Roberts said she may miss four to six weeks.
Taylor Roberts opened the season by missing a few games with a foot injury, but she was still averaging nearly 28 points per game this season.
She was having quite the impact, much like the other freshmen. It's a trend that's likely to continue the next four years for the group.
“There's been some good classes around,” Maloney said. “I think there's been a large group of contributors as freshman, but I've never seen (this amount of) the star-level players.”