Sports Editor

TULSA — Wren Baker was front row and center — a sagacious observer with a vested interest — during the three days of the Tournament of Champions.

Baker, head coach of the first-year Rogers State basketball Hillcats, was beaming like a proud papa as he watched the moves and comportment of a high-profile recruit.

Vince Boncaldo is a 6-7 senior forward on the Jenks team that was playing for third place Saturday night.

Baker had beaten several other coaches to the punch by signing Boncaldo to a letter of intent last month.

“We wanted him,” Baker said emphatically.

“He puts us on the recruiting map. He’s the highest profile, and the best high school player, we’ve been able to sign.”

Boncaldo is a football player with a basketball body. Lean and lithe, solid and strong. He shoots well from mid-range and defends with the trademark tenacity that reflects the teachings of his high school coach, Clay Martin.

“Vince has great hands and great footwork,” Baker said. “He’s a very smart player.

“He’s a perfect player for our system.

“The Jenks kids are very well coached. Coach Martin and I teach a lot of the same things — man-to-man defense, zone offense.

“We are really excited about signing Vince,” Baker said. “He’s a high school kid who will be ready to contribute early.”

Baker, whose Hillcats are at the semester break with a 6-2 record, says that he had two scholarships available for next school year. He was eager to hand one of those to Boncaldo.

“I think it’s terrific that we could get in there and sign him early. It tells those other schools that we can go in and recruit in Tulsa.

“We wanted him more than anybody. He was Priority No. 1.”

Baker calls assistant coach Lloyd Williams “the lead man on recruiting Vince.”

Williams, a former assistant at the University of Texas at San Antonio, spent the 2005-06 season on the Jenks basketball staff.

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