The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

April 16, 2014

NOC Enid’s Swanson signs with OSU

ENID, Okla. — Rylie Swanson, the self-described “big University of Oklahoma football fan,’’ felt a little funny Wednesday when she signed a letter of intent with OU’s archrival, Oklahoma State.

“It was a little different going from Boomer Sooner to Go Pokes,’’ she said with a laugh.

Swanson, the basketball player who led the young Northern Oklahoma College Enid Lady Jets to the national junior college tournament, didn’t have any qualms.

OU didn’t offer or had even contacted her.

“I think it will be OK when I play against them,’’ Swanson said. “A scholarship changes your perspective a little bit. It feels great.’’

The signing capped what she said was her fun year in basketball, where she said she grew as a player, and a person.

Swanson, an Alva native, averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the Lady Jets, while shooting 45.1 percent from the field, 30-.2 percent from 3-point range and 87.8 percent from the foul line.

“NOC has prepared me for the next level,’’ she said. “I changed considerably the past few years as a player and as a person.’’

Swanson, at one point, was the only healthy sophomore veteran on the team. The once-reluctant leader took charge.

“Probably the leadership was my biggest change,’’ she said. “I’ve never been one to talk before. I always had led by example. This year I had to use my words to lead. I actually enjoyed it.’’

Swanson, known for her physical play, said the biggest improvement basketball-wise was her perimeter shooting and outside guard defense.

“I’m doing a lot more as a player now,’’ she said.

Swanson chose OSU over Texas-Arlington. She said it wasn’t the slam dunk people thought it was.

“I was really stressed about my decision, whether it was the right one or not, or if I was going to like it there,’’ she said. “There were a lot of things that I had to factor in.’’

One factor might have been the size of the campus after going to a Class 3A high school and a small junior college.

“I’m a little nervous about that, but I’m more excited than nervous,’’ Swanson said. “It was a really tough decision. I’m glad it’s over with.’’

She chose OSU because she wanted to play Division I and be close to home. Swanson also had considered Northwestern Louisiana State, but ruled that out due to its distance.

“OSU has a really good program,’’ Swanson said about the Cowgirls, who reached the NCAA Sweet 16. “I really like coach (Jim) Littell and the rest of the coaching staff.’’

Littell got some help from son Jerame, who is a first baseman on the Jets’ baseball team.

“We’re good friends,’’ Swanson said of the younger Littell. “That helps a lot. He tried to help out a little bit.’’

Marisha Wallace, who was Swanson’s  teammate at NOC Enid in her freshman year, recently has left the OSU program.

“I know it’s going to be a lot faster-paced,’’ Swanson said. “There’s going to be  a lot of athletes at that level. That’s going to be hard to overcome.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to play immediately. I know I’m really going to have to work hard to get where I want to be. I’m not worried about it. The coaches will push me and I think I will respond to it. I haven’t set any goals yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with some.’’

Swanson will report to OSU on June 8, where she will take summer school classes and participate in the off-season program, which will include some individual instruction.

“I’m really excited about the strength and conditioning,’’ Swanson said. “It’s a big step, but I’m pretty much ready for it.’’

The Lady Jets were the No. 5 seed going into the regionals, but swept No. 4 Murray State (79-77),  No. 1 NEO (96-83) and No. 2 Eastern (89-73) to qualify for the nationals. NOC Enid beat Eastern Arizona 71-64 in the first round, and almost upset Hutchinson, Kan., before falling 77-68 in overtime.

Swanson had a career-high 30 points against Murray State and.was a first-team All-Region 2 selection.

“That was a lot of fun, easily my most memorable moment in basketball,’’ Swanson said. “We went on a run and put it together at the right time. I like to think I stepped it up and everybody else did, too. I really loved it here. We never went to state when I was at Alva ... I guess making nationals was what making state would have felt like.’’

Swanson plans to major in kinesiology a OSU.

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