Oklahoma high school basketball runs through Santa Fe

High school basketball is a delicacy in the state of Oklahoma. We’ve seen dozens of stars move through the state and move on to do great things professionally, but there has been an influx of talent from one school over the last 15 years.

I’ll stray away from offending old-head Oklahoma basketball connoisseurs from past generations, but one thing you can’t deny is the talent this state has seen since 2004. There have been a few super teams around the Oklahoma City metro area since 2004. Douglass rattled off seven state titles during the 15-year span, including five in a row from 2010-2014. Bishop McGuinness won four state titles over that time frame, with a three-peat from 2006-2008. Putnam City also won three state titles over this decade-and-a-half. Other teams with stacked rosters were Edmond Memorial in the 2010s, and Santa Fe, who weirdly only won one state title since 2004.

If you weren’t from Oklahoma and didn’t know the history of the state’s high school basketball, you’d think that all basketball went through Douglass, Bishop McGuinness or Putnam City and if you’re basing that off state titles, you’re right. What you may not know, is that Santa Fe now has three alumni within the last 15 years that are currently in the NBA.

“Epke was probably the best player I’ve seen come out of Santa Fe. Then he went to Michigan and Baylor and put in work.”

Josh Richardson on Epke Udoh.

Epke Udoh was the first of the three, graduating from Santa Fe in 2006. He went on to play two seasons at Michigan and one at Baylor where he averaged 8.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.8 blocks per game. In 2010, he declared for the NBA draft, where he was drafted sixth overall by the Golden State Warriors. In his 10-year career, he’s been a journeyman, playing for four different NBA teams as well as Bnei Herzliya, a team in Israel and Fenerbahçe in Turkey. Udoh currently plays for the Utah Jazz and averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game during the 2018-2019 season.

“There are a few different factors, but really how hard we work. I think we’ve been taught to work hard at a young age and Santa Fe has played a big role in that.”

Richardson on the work ethic Santa Fe instils in their basketball athletes.

Josh Richardson is the second Wolf to make an NBA roster. Graduating from Santa Fe in 2011, Richardson made the Oklahoma Coaches Association’s “Large West” All-State team and the ‘Super 5’ team in the state of Oklahoma, but was still weirdly underrated. Heading into college, Scout had him as a two-star recruit, while Rivals gave him three. He went on to play four years at Tennessee, where he averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. After a big NCAA tournament, leading his Volunteers to the Sweet 16, Richardson started to catch NBA scout’s attention. He carried that momentum into his senior season where he averaged 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and received First Team All-SEC, SEC All-Defensive Team, and Defensive All-American Team honors.

“When I came out and went to Tennessee, I wasn’t all-conference or anything but I put my head down and I kept working. You can say the same thing about Quan and Tulsa. I think it’s a testament to the type of people we are.”

Richardson on he and DaQuan’s work ethic.

His final two seasons at Tennessee set the stage for him to be drafted 40th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2015 Draft. Over his five-year career, Richardson has improved each season and averaged 16.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Lastly, Daquan Jeffries, a 2015 Santa Fe graduate, started his collegiate career at Oral Roberts University and went to Tulsa for his sophomore and junior seasons. While at Santa Fe, Jeffries played in the post. He was a power forward and served as the Wolves’ main frontcourt option. At 6-foot-5, he’s had to make a big transition to the wing while playing division one basketball, as well as improving his three-point shooting. After two collegiate seasons, Jeffries averaged 13.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists, while winning the NCAA Slam Dunk competition.

Most notably, Jeffries keeps improving. He was recruited for his athleticism, defense, and rebounding. In college, he became a threat from three, which presents a tremendous upside for today’s three-point-centric NBA. Jeffries shot 39.8 percent from three his first two years and 36.6 percent in his final year at Tulsa.

On Thursday night, Jeffries had the opportunity to become the third former Santa Fe star to join the elite core of Wolves in the NBA. Although he didn’t get drafted, which almost happened, he did sign a deal as an undrafted free agent with the Orlando Magic.

“Having three guys from the same school in the league at the same time says a lot about Santa Fe. People in Oklahoma sleep on the Edmond schools and Edmond Santa Fe in general. People think of Douglass, people think of Bishop McGuinness because of all the championships, but they don’t realize the last three years Edmond Santa Fe has been the runner-up for the State Championship. It means a lot for Santa Fe to have three kids in the league at the same time.”

DeQuan Jeffries on what it means for himself, and Santa Fe to have three former stars in the NBA at the same time.

That being said, Santa Fe has become a hub for basketball players that want to play at the next level. Although there’s only one championship from 2005 to show for it, Santa Fe has been the State Runner-Up numerous times and clearly get their players to the next level, whether that’s the NBA or overseas. When talking about high school basketball in the state of Oklahoma, it all goes through Edmond Santa Fe.

About Author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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