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Remember the Sonics! is introducing a new feature called Guest Space. Any reader is welcome to submit their own work for consideration, as long as it falls within the realm of sports history, analysis, projections, etc.

The Guest Space premiere article is from Brian Hodges, an Oklahoma native and avid Oklahoma State Cowboys fan.

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I know it may be heresy to write about Oklahoma City sports on a blog named Remember the Sonics, but please hear me out.

Oklahoma City has never been known as a breeding ground for top-notch athletes. While Hall of Fame athletes like Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, and Steve Largent were born and/or raised in Oklahoma City, their time of greatness has long passed. Since then, Oklahomans have been forced to find pride in gymnasts such as Bart Conner and Shannon Miller… And who really cares about gymnastics?

Despite a long run of mediocrity, the past year has been freakishly good for Oklahoma City sports. For example, in the last calendar year players from Oklahoma City hoisted the Heisman Trophy (awarded to the best player in college football) and the Naismith Trophy (awarded to the best player in college basketball).

Here are a few Oklahoma City athletes who had outstanding accomplishments last season:

Sam Bradford – Football – Oklahoma Sooners QB

QB Sam Bradford

QB Sam Bradford

In only his sophomore year, quarterback Sam Bradford led the Oklahoma Sooners to a BCS National Championship. Throwing for over 4,700 yards and 50 touchdowns earned him the Davey O’Brien Award (awarded to the best quarterback in college football) and the most prestigious award in college football, the Heisman Trophy.

At the conclusion of this year’s college football season, Bradford was considered one of the top prospects for the 2009 NFL Draft. Instead of turning pro, however, he decided to return to Oklahoma for his junior year.

Sam Bradford’s 2008 College Football Resume

  • Led Oklahoma to a 12-1 Regular Season Record
  • Won the Big 12 Conference Championship
  • Earned a BCS National Championship Bid
  • Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
  • AP First Team All-American
  • AP College Football Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy Winner
  • Davey O’Brien Award Winner
  • Heisman Trophy Winner

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Blake Griffin – Basketball – Oklahoma Sooners PF/C

griffin

PF/C Blake Griffin

In his sophomore year, Blake Griffin led Oklahoma to the Elite Eight. Griffin owned college basketball this season, averaging 22.7 Points Per Game and an NCAA-Best 14.4 Rebounds Per Game while recording 30 double-doubles. He won every legitimate “Player of the Year” trophy in 2009 and is universally projected as the No.1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Blake Griffin’s 2008-09 College Basketball Resume

  • Led Oklahoma to a 27-4 Regular Season Record and an Elite Eight Appearance
  • Big 12 Player of the Year
  • Adolph Rupp Award Winner
  • Oscar Robertson Trophy Winner
  • AP First Team All-American
  • Sports Illustrated Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • AP College Basketball Player of the Year
  • John Wooden Award Winner
  • Too Many Other POTY Awards to List

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Xavier Henry – Basketball – Putnam City High School SG

xavier

SG Xavier Henry

Oklahoma City’s athletic success carried over to the high school ranks as well.

Xavier Henry, from my alma mater Putnam City High School, was the No.1 ranked college basketball prospect by ESPNU for most last season. He is still considered a top 10 prospect by every major recruiting website.

The 6’6” shooting guard committed to Memphis but is now considering other options since head coach John Calipari accepted the head coaching position at Kentucky. According to various sources, he has narrowed his list to Kansas, Memphis and the now-Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats.

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Oklahoma City Thunder – NBA Franchise – Established in 2008

Most sports fans know how the Oklahoma City Thunder came to be, but most (former) Seattle Sonics fans are unaware of the Thunder’s impact on it’s new city. 2008 will always be remembered as the year that Oklahoma City finally received a major professional sports team.

While the Thunder struggled through its first season in Oklahoma City, it has a strong young corps of players led by superstar Kevin Durant. The Thunder will have a lottery pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and have an outside chance at winning the No.1 Pick and adding local icon Blake Griffin to their roster.

Despite this season’s failure, the OKC Thunder are quickly becoming a stylish pick among NBA writers for the “team of the future.” The only question is when the Thunder can put it all together and produce a winning season.

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While the three athletes mentioned above are still very young, their potential is limitless. It is yet to be seen whether they will follow former Oklahoma City football star Brian Bosworth by turning into one of the biggest flops in the sports history or follow one of the Hall of Fame athletes mentioned before and become a legend.

Regardless of where they go from here, their futures are bright.

Oklahoma City sports fans should live it up while they can, because I don’t see Okies winning both the Heisman and the Naismith awards again any time soon.

-BH-

Brian Hodges can be reached at bhodges@harding.edu

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