The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department announced Saturday that it will welcome back women's basketball great Courtney Paris during OU's season opener against Belmont on November 10. The university will honor Paris' No. 3 jersey at halftime of the 7 p.m. contest at Lloyd Noble Center.
Paris, the 2007 AP National Player of the Year and three-time Big 12 Player of the Year, is the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder with 2,729 points and 2,034 rebounds. In 2009, Paris became the first player regardless of gender or division to accumulate 2,500 career points and 2,000 career rebounds.
The first-ever four-time AP All-American in women's college basketball history, Paris set the NCAA record for consecutive games with a double-double at 112 and concluded her career with 20 NCAA and 69 OU records.
“The University of Oklahoma and the four years I spent there mean so much to me,” Paris said. “It's more than where I played college basketball, it's more than my alma mater, it has become my home. To be a part of a small group of players to have their jersey honored at the Lloyd Noble Center mean everything to me. November 10 will be a night that I will never forget and I'm extremely humbled by this honor.”
Playing alongside her twin sister, Ashley, and under head coach Sherri Coale, Paris led the Sooners to three Big 12 regular season titles (2006, 2007, 2009), two Big 12 tournament championships (2006, 2007), three Sweet 16 appearances (2006, 2007, 2009) and a berth in the 2009 Final Four.
"Courtney Paris left an indelible mark on Oklahoma women's basketball,” Coale said. “She was a Wooden Award Finalist and the NCAA's first ever female four-time consensus All-American, she led us to multiple conference titles and a Final Four in her senior season, but even those accolades don't do her justice.
"Courtney changed the game. She was a warrior inside the lines — a consummate teammate who did her job with astounding consistency, while deflecting praise and passing credit. Courtney could score and rebound and block shots, but in my opinion her greatest gift was always her hands. You couldn't throw a pass she couldn't catch. She made the game look easy, and made her teammates and coaches look good. We are honored to hang her jersey inside the Lloyd Noble Center.
Paris immediately caught attention of the college basketball world by putting together arguably the best freshman campaign in NCAA history, leading the Sooners to the 2006 Big 12 regular season and tournament championships. Paris became the first player in OU history to be recognized as the USBWA National Freshman of the Year and was the first NCAA player to record 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in a single season. Her 539 rebounds also set the NCAA single-season and freshman record.
As a sophomore, Paris set OU single-season records with averages of 23.5 points, 15.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game leading the Sooners to the 2007 Big 12 regular season and tournament championship. Among her career accolades, Paris was a four-time Naismith and Wooden Award finalist, three-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2009 SENIOR Class Award winner.
“The University of Oklahoma is excited to have this opportunity to honor the outstanding accomplishments of Courtney Paris,” OU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione said. “Courtney's career was extraordinary as she was a four-time All-American, earned multiple conference player of the year honors, led our women's basketball program to a combined five Big 12 titles and the 2009 Final Four, while setting numerous records that may never be broken. We've closely followed the wonderful career she's had in the WNBA and look forward to a tremendous night to celebrate one of the all-time Sooners.”
Paris recently completed her eighth season in the WNBA, helping the Dallas Wings secure a playoff berth. She has twice won the WNBA Peak Performance Award for rebounding, leading the league in total rebounds during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.