Griner head of class
By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer
Brittney Griner has been in a class by herself all season. Now she’s part of a select group.
Baylor’s 6-foot-8 star senior was a unanimous selection to The Associated Press’ All-America team Tuesday.
Griner became the fifth three-time AP All-American, joining Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw, Duke’s Alana Beard, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris and Connecticut’s Maya Moore. Paris and Moore were the only two to earn the honor all four years.
“That’s pretty special company,” Griner said.
She was joined on the squad by Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Baylor teammate Odyssey Sims.
With Sims and Griner, it marked the sixth time that teammates were first team All-Americans. Connecticut has done it four times and Tennessee once.
“I think they’re two of the best, period,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
It’s hard to argue. Griner was unstoppable nearly all season, averaging 23.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.2 blocks. She also had 11 dunks, including three in one game against Florida State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Griner and Diggins received 200 points and were unanimous choices by the 40-member national media panel that votes in the weekly Top 25. It’s the sixth straight season that there has been at least one unanimous choice. Voting was done before the NCAA tournament.
Diggins has had an unbelievable season herself, guiding Notre Dame to its first Big East tournament title and a second straight conference regular-season championship. She’s averaged 17 points, 5.9 assists and 3.1 steals and became the school’s all-time scoring leader.
“This means a lot to me,” said Diggins, who also was an All-America last season. “I was fortunate enough to have a school like Notre Dame in my backyard, and this is an honor that I share with all my coaches and teammates.”
Diggins joins Ruth Riley as the only Irish players to earn first-team All-America honors in consecutive seasons. Riley did it in 2000 and 2001.
The senior guard said she would love to have the All-America team on the floor.
“This would be a coach’s dream team. I’d have a field day with this team,” Diggins said. “We wouldn’t lose.”
Ogwumike guided Stanford to its seventh straight conference tournament championship before the Cardinal lost in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament to Georgia. That ended a streak of five straight trips to the Final Four for the team.
She did all she could for the Cardinal, averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Ogwumike was thrilled to learn she and her sister Nnemkadi, who graduated last year, were the first pair of sisters ever to be All-Americans.
“Wow, what a really cool accomplishment for our family,” she said. “She always pulled me up when we were playing together, and to join her now is incredible.”
While it was Chiney Ogwumike’s first time as an All-American, Delle Donne earned the honor for a second straight time.
She carried Delaware to unprecedented heights this year with a trip to the NCAA tournament regional semifinals for the first time. The 6-foot-5 senior was second in the nation in scoring and helped the Blue Hens go undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Association for the second season in a row.
“It’s an incredible honor to be an All-American,” Delle Donne said. “To be with that group of girls is really special.”
She ended her career as the fifth all-time leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 points, passing former stars Cheryl Miller, Holdsclaw and Moore in her last game Saturday.
Sims averaged 12.5 points and 5.7 assists for the Lady Bears, who lost in the regional semifinals to Louisville on Sunday night. She almost rallied them from a 19-point second-half deficit, scoring 29 points in the loss.
“I’m glad to be named to that; it’s a great accomplishment,” Sims said of making the All-America team.
The five All-Americans were on the preseason team, along with Maryland junior Alyssa Thomas. It was only the third time that the postseason All-Americans were all on the preseason team since the AP started compiling a squad in 1995.
Thomas headlined the second team with Connecticut sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Penn State junior Maggie Lucas, Duke junior Chelsea Gray and Kentucky senior A’dia Mathies.
The third team was Texas A&M’s Kelsey Bone, UConn’s Stefanie Dolson, Duke’s Elizabeth Williams, Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons and Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride.
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