SHAWNEE — In its previous 48 years, the Faith 7 Basketball Bowl has seen its share of big stars.
Most recently, NBA names like Blake Griffin and Andre Roberson stand out. And Saturday night’s game had its share, too, with a handful of players destined for major colleges.
But might it have also had the next Ron Baker, the Wichita State sophomore who made an immediate impact and helped put the mid-major program among the elite the last two seasons?
Tulsa Washington guard Kevin Sims scored 27 points for the Oklahoma All-Stars in a 116-112 overtime loss to Texas in the 49th annual Faith 7 game. Putnam City West’s Omega Harris added 21 points, while Del City’s Brett Cannon had 18 points and seven rebounds for Oklahoma.
Sims was named Oklahoma’s MVP, while Oklahoma Christian signee Jordan Box earned the Texas award with 29 points and six rebounds, hitting 13 of 22 field goals.
While Sims is heading the junior-college route, Harris and Cannon are bound for blossoming programs, hoping to help them take the next step in their growth.
Harris signed with UTEP, coached by Tim Floyd, who is having success at yet another stop along his career journey. Cannon is heading to Arkansas-Fort Smith, which only recently made the transition from junior college to four-year school and is quickly making an impact in NCAA Division II.
“The expectations are growing higher and higher,” Cannon said of UAFS. “We’ve won two conference championships in a row, went to the national tournament this year.
“Growing up, I was taught to fear no man. You just want your opportunity. I’m really excited to get out there and get started.”
The Oklahoma team had a couple of big men headed for big schools — 6-foot-9 Oklahoma State signee Mitchell Solomon of Bixby and Comanche’s Jacob Hammond, a 6-10 Nebraska signee.
On the other side, Texas’ Jamuni McNeace of Allen High School flashed the athleticism he’ll be bringing to OU, and the Texans had others who have signed with Texas Tech, Notre Dame and Miami, Fla.
But Oklahoma got contributions from the likes of Harrah’s Collin Jennings, who has signed with Missouri-Kansas City, and Santa Clara signee Stephen Edwards of Putnam City West.
In all, the Oklahoma team had five Division I signees on the roster, heading to colleges hoping to get to work on the next phase of their careers. They were part of a deep senior class, even if it wasn’t loaded with the elite stars.
“You see what programs like Wichita State did, and it’s exciting,” Jennings said. “Maybe you’ll get some playing time as a freshman and get to make an impact.
“It gives you a chance to make a name for yourself and your team.”