Murray State is making a habit of getting Southern Oklahoma's best.
First, it was a pair of Sulphur players on Monday, then it was one of the best guards in Class 5A on Wednesday, as Ardmore senior Patrice Bennett signed with the Aggies for basketball.
Bennett burst onto the scene in her only season with Ardmore, averaging 16.7 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.5 rebounds per game as the lead guard for the much-improved Tigers. Surrounded by friends and family on Wednesday at Ardmore High School, the 5-foot-2 guard gave her full pledge to MSC coach Crystal Robinson, who Bennett thinks is the perfect mentor to get her where she wants to be.
"The girls were really nice and the coach," Bennett said of the deciding factors on picking Murray State. "I know she's gonna get me to my next level to where I want to go because I plan to go to the WNBA, finish college and then try to go.
"I still need to improve and I know she'll help me work to get better."
Murray State assistant coach Phil Daniel recognized Bennett as someone who fits the mold of player the Aggies crave.
"We liked her competitiveness, that was obvious to us right off the bat," he said. "She plays the game hard like we require our kids to do. She saw the floor real well, she shared the ball, she wasn't selfish. She's the kind of kid we were looking for.
"We think Patrice has a great future. We think we can contend for a national championship next year, and we think Patrice can be a big part of that."
Bennett only had one season of play as a Tiger after transferring from Plano, Texas, but she made the most of it. Ardmore improved 10 wins from the 2011-12 season, led by Bennett's brand of no-holds-barred basketball.
Also in his first season with Ardmore, girls coach Kevin Kelly said Bennett was the key factor to the team's resurgence in 5A.
"When you come into a program, you're looking to make sure you have two types of players: you need a point guard and you need a post player," Kelly said. "Having her run the point guard position for us took a lot of pressure off everybody else, took a lot of pressure off me.
"When you have someone who's cool, calm and collected, has some experience handling the basketball, and has a high basketball IQ it just makes the game easier for you. She was able to do that for us this year."
Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD