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Past articles:
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  • 2005 WNBA Season wrap-up

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  • Leslie Gball's Player of the Year

  • Hitting the last-second shot

  • Scholarships,
    Part I

  • Scholarships,
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  • LATTA NAMED GBALLMAG.COM PLAYER OF THE YEAR; PARIS TOP ROOKIE; FRESE COPS BEST COACH AWARD
    By Dave Wohlhueter

    The job of picking the nation's best collegiate female basketball player doesn't get any easier as each year, the game is taken to another level.

    We've been doing this since 2001, when Notre Dame center Ruth Riley was our choice, and she has had a dandy WNBA career. The Big East continued its dominance in 2002 and 2003, with the selections of UConn guards Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. We turned to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004 with the selection of Duke guard Alana Beard. All have made it big in the WNBA. Last year, our choice was LSU junior guard Seimone Augustus of the Southeastern Conference, and she will make her impact on the pro league very soon.

    For the fifth consecutive year, the Gballmag.com Player of the Year goes to a guard, junior Ivory Latta of North Carolina. As did Augustus, Latta failed to lead her team past the Final Four semifinals, but that shouldn't deter her qualifications for the 2006 honor. The 5-6 Latta was named the ESPN.com Player of the Year, and was the recipient of the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation's top point guard. She is also Associated Press first team, and named to the John Wooden, USBWA and Kodak All-America teams. She led the 33-2 Tar Heels in scoring (18.4 ppg.), assists (5.2 apg.) and 3-pt. field goals (85). Amongst the starters, she was the best foul shooter (.852) and played the most minutes (32.1 mpg.). Latta was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in the strongest conference in the country, and received ACC tournament MVP honors.

    Joining Latta on the Gballmag.com first team are: Augustus; senior guard Cappie Pondexter, Rutgers; senior forward Sophia Young, Baylor; and freshman center Courtney Paris, Oklahoma.

    The 6-1 Augustus is a two-time NCAA Player of the Year, and received the State Farm Wade Trophy Player of the Year twice. The No. 1 choice in the 2006 WNBA draft by Minnesota, she averaged 22.7 ppg., 4.7 rpg., 1.8 apg., and 1.5 spg. for the Tigers. She shot 56.1 percent from the field, including 45 percent from behind the 3-pt. arc. She started a school-record 140 games for LSU. She was a unanimous Associated Press All-America first team member, and named to every other All-America team chosen. Augustus was the SEC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, and won NCAA regional honors for the third straight year. She was selected as the winner of the Senior CLASS Award.

    Pondexter was a finalist for the State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith and Wooden Awards, and the Lieberman Award. She averaged 21.6 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 3.2 apg., and 1.7 spg. She was named AP All-America first team, USBWA, and the ESPN.com All-America squad. She is the first Big East player to be named first team, and to the all-tournament team all four years, and was the conference Player of the Year in her final season. She also was named to the Senior CLASS Award All-America first team. Phoenix took Pondexter No. 2 in the WNBA draft.

    Young moves up from the 2005 Gballmag.com second team. She is also a consensus All-American. Young led the Big 12 in scoring (22.2 ppg.), and was No. 2 in steals (71), and No. 3 in rebounding (10.0 rpg.) and double-doubles (17). She was the only active player named to the Big 12 10th Anniversary team. Young holds conference records for scoring (2,480 points), rebounding (1,316), double-doubles (61), and rebounding average (9.5 rpg.). She is one of four players to have tallied 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 steals, and 300 assists in their NCAA careers. Young was the No. 4 player to be taken in the 2006 WNBA draft, by San Antonio.

    Paris, in addition to being named to the Gballmag.com first team, is also the Freshman of the Year. A consensus All-American, Paris averaged 21.9 ppg., 15.0 rpg., and 3.3 bpg., while shooting 61.4 percent from the field. She became the first player in NCAA history to collect 700 points, 500 rebounds, and 100 blocks in one season. The 6-4 center was the USBWA National Freshman of the Year, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. She was named All-Big 12 first team and conference championship MVP.

    Named to the Gballmag.com second team are: 6-5 junior center Jessica Davenport, Ohio State; 6-0 graduate guard Monique Currie, Duke; 5-11 sophomore guard Candace Wiggins, Stanford; 6-4 freshman forward Candace Parker; and 6-1 sophomore forward Crystal Langhorne, Maryland.

    Davenport is Gballmag.com second team for the second straight year. A two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, she led the conference in scoring (18.7 ppg.), rebounding (8.9 rpg.), blocks (3.1 bpg.), and field goal percentage (.618). She is second in the Big Ten in career blocks and field goal percentage. She was also AP second team, and named to various other All-America squads.

    Currie, also Gballmag.com second year last season, returned to Duke for her fifth campaign. She is AP second team, and named to other All-America squads. She averaged 16.3 ppg., 5.8 rpg., 2.8 apg. and 1.3 spg. this season. She became the first player in ACC history to register over 2,000 points, 800 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals in a career. Currie had a triple-double this season vs. Florida State with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. She was the third pick in the WNBA draft, taken by the Charlotte Sting.

    Wiggins was the Gballmag.com Co-Freshman of the Year last season, and named to the Web site's second five. She was Pac-10 first team, setting a school record of 21.8 ppg., and averaged 4.8 rpg. and 3.5 apg. Wiggins has been the Player of the Year in the conference for both of her collegiate seasons. She is 2006 AP All-America second team, and named to various other squads.

    Parker, a redshirt frosh, made an impact on the collegiate basketball scene by dunking twice in one game during the NCAA tournament. She was All-SEC first team and Freshman of the Year. Named the SEC tournament MVP, she averaged 17.3 ppg., 8.3 rpg., and 2.4 bpg for the season.

    Langhorne was the regional MVP leading up to the Final Four. She has been named All-ACC first team and all-tournament twice. She led the nation in field goal percentage (.665), and averaged 17.2 ppg. and 8.8 rpg.

    Once again, many coaches were worthy choices for Coach of the Year honors. Sylvia Hatchell was a top choice, and certainly Sherri Coale at Oklahoma deserved consideration. Because she took her team all the way, the Gballmag.com choice for Coach of the Year is Maryland fourth-year coach Brenda Frese. She took a starting lineup of one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen all the way through the NCAA tournament, wiping out a 13-point deficit to defeat Duke 78-75 in overtime in the championship contest. Maryland compiled a 34-4 record for the most wins in the history of the school.




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