Back in the spring of 2006, Olathe East’s Danielle McCray was honored as the Kansas City Metro female high school athlete of the year.
About the same time, Janae Voelker of Newton was named Kansas female prep athlete of the year by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.
McCray, as we know, went on to Kansas University, while Voelker matriculated to Oral Roberts University, and today they’ll meet for the first time on a basketball floor.
Tipoff will be at 2 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse for the Jayhawks’ season opener. Sunflower Broadband channel 6 will carry a live telecast.
Voelker, a 5-foot-10 guard-forward, is a first-team All-Summit League selection who has posted double-digit scoring in 41 straight games.
“I saw her in the state championship game my second year here,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “She’s strong … a lefty, and she’s really athletic.”
So, too, of course, is the 5-11 McCray. In fact, the last time KU’s Big 12 Conference preseason player of the year competed against Voelker was in the shot put at the ’06 state track championships in Wichita.
But basketball isn’t a one-on-one game, and, on paper, the Jayhawks own the edge over the Golden Eagles in size and, most glaringly, experience. Eleven of the 14 players on the ORU roster are underclassmen.
Nevertheless, freshmen Kevi Luper and Jaci Bigham, and sophomore Jordan Pyle — all Oklahoma prep products — were the ringleaders when ORU opened its season at home Friday night with a 98-65 pasting of Texas-Pan American.
Luper, a 5-10 wing, scored a game-high 25 points, while Pyle, a 6-1 forward, scored 22, and point guard Bigham added 17. Voelker had 10 points and eight boards.
Although today is KU’s official season opener, there aren’t any pressing questions about Henrickson’s personnel. That much was clear in the Jayhawks’ exhibition romps over a pair of NCAA Div. II teams.
Henrickson’s starting lineup is cut in stone, with junior Krysten Boogaard and sophomore Aishah Sutherland operating in the double post, seniors McCray and Sade Morris on the wings and red-shirt freshman Angel Goodrich at point guard.
Junior Nicollette Smith is the first frontcourt sub, and freshman Monica Engelman will be the first wing off the bench. The back-up point guard will be either senior LaChelda Jacobs or junior-college transfer Rhea Codio.
Henrickson is still looking for a reliable fourth inside player. With senior Porscha Weddington (mono) out and with freshman Tania Jackson taking a red shirt, unrelated freshmen Annette Davis and Carolyn Davis are the leading candidates.
“Annette needs to be more consistent,” Henrickson said, “and Carolyn needs to be more aggressive. Right now, they need bigger motors in practice.”
Next for the Jayhawks are a pair of Big Ten teams. KU will travel to Iowa on Wednesday, then entertain Michigan a week from today.