Courtney Paris, left, and Ashley Paris greet Danielle Robinson and Jasmine Hartman during 2009 senior night festivities. While the Paris sisters have moved on, they left a big impact with the players they helped recruit to the program and the example they set for their teammates. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE
"Now, California people know about Oklahoma.”
Convincing out-of-state recruits to give Oklahoma a look wasn’t the Paris twins’ only impact on these Sooners.
Jasmine Hartman only played a year with the sisters, but she learned a lesson in perseverance from Ashley. She watched as Ashley transformed her body, losing weight and gaining strength.
"She kept striving to get where she wanted to be,” Hartman said.
The example has stayed with Hartman.
"Just to keep pushing,” she said.
Even newcomers who never played a minute with the Paris sisters feel the impact of their presence.
Joanna McFarland came in this season going "3,000 miles an hour,” she said. The freshman center has learned to slow down. Chill out. Relax.
"I got it from Abi,” she said, "and Abi got it from them.”
The Paris twins helped Olajuwon, and now, she is helping McFarland.
What the Paris twins did during their time at OU — drawing recruits, influencing teammates, building expectations — has helped sustain the Sooners now that they’re gone.
Courtney Paris isn’t convinced she and her sister had that much to do with this season’s success.
"I think the link goes beyond Ashley and I,” she said. "You have to consider Britney Brown and Leah Rush and Krista Sanchez and the people who were here when we decided to come to Oklahoma. Then ... you have to consider Stacey Dales and LaNeishea Caufield and all those guys who got them to come.
"I don’t think you can start with Ashley and I.”
Perhaps not, but they did more than continue what had been started. They kicked it into another gear.
That’s because in the first season without the Paris twins, the Sooners are not only surviving but also thriving.
"Look at them,” Courtney Paris said. "They’re in the Sweet 16. They’re still doing well.”
Do the Paris twins deserve all the credit for that?
Of course not.
Still, their fingerprints are evident on these Sooners. Even as they are overseas playing professional basketball — Courtney in Adana, Turkey, and Ashley in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine — their impact will be felt tonight in Kansas City.
"Of course,” Sooner senior Nyeshia Stevenson said, "we still carry them.”