Brittney Griner has dominated women’s basketball all season.
Now the 6-foot-8 junior phenom is a unanimous selection to The Associated Press’ all-America team Tuesday, a day after leading the unbeaten Lady Bears to their second Final Four in three seasons.
She was joined on the squad by Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas.
“That would be a very strong team,” Griner said. “I feel sorry for anyone who would have to play us.”
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Griner, who was on the first team for the second straight year, hasn’t taken pity on her opponents. She has the Lady Bears two wins away from becoming the first team in NCAA history to go 40-0.
“I would never have thought it would be like this. It’s amazing,” Griner said. “Sometimes you forget what you’ve done. You don’t sit back and enjoy it as you’re so focused on a goal. It definitely has been a great year so far. I hope it finishes the right way, too.”
Griner has been incredible all season, but raised her game over the past month. She’s averaging 23.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.2 blocks this season. Throw in two incredible dunks in the NCAA tournament and she’s been unstoppable.
Griner and Ogwumike received 200 points and were unanimous choices by the 40-member national media panel that votes in the weekly Top 25. It’s the fifth straight season that there has been at least one unanimous choice. Voting was done before the NCAA tournament.
Ogwumike, who averaged 22.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, had been on the second team the past two seasons and was thrilled to make the first team this year. Yet she was more excited that her sister Chiney earned second team honors.
“Not a lot of people can say they play with their sister and win an award,” the Stanford senior forward said. “I’m really proud of Chiney. She even has more to grow on as she’s only a sophomore. For her to be one of the top players in the country as a sophomore is remarkable.”
The Ogwumikes became the first sisters to be all-Americans in the same season. In 2009, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris earned first team honors while her sister was honorable mention. Kelly Miller of Georgia made the first team in 2001 while her sister Coco was honorable mention. It’s never happened on the men’s side, either.
Diggins became the first Notre Dame player to make the first team since Ruth Riley did it in consecutive years in 2000 and 2001. The junior guard was instrumental in helping the Irish win their first outright Big East regular season championship, averaging 16.6 points and 5.7 assists. Diggins knows that she’d probably have a lot more assists if she was playing with this all-American squad.
“I’d love to be the floor general for that team,” Diggins said. “I’d probably average 20 assists. I can tell you right now, we’d be undefeated, we’d win every game by double digits.”
Delle Donne carried Delaware to unprecedented heights this season. The 6-foot-5 junior led the nation in scoring averaging 28.1 points. She helped the Blue Hens go undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Association, win the conference tournament for the first time and earn their first Top 25 ranking. She capped off the season by getting the Blue Hens their first NCAA tournament victory.
Now she’s the school’s initial first team all-American. She was on the third team two seasons ago.
“This is truly a great honor to be considered among the top women’s basketball players in the country,” Delle Donne said. “I am proud to represent the University of Delaware and I share this honor with my teammates and the coaching staff. Although the season ended earlier than we had hoped, this past year is one that I will always remember.”
Thomas guided Maryland to the ACC tournament championship and was the conference’s player of the year as a sophomore. She also has helped the Terrapins reach the NCAA tournament regional final.
“This is such an honor to be named an AP all-American as a sophomore because there’s so many great players in the country.”
Joining Chiney Ogwumike on the second team were Baylor sophomore Odyssey Sims, Miami senior Shenise Johnnson, Ohio State senior Samantha Prahalis and Wisconsin-Green Bay senior Julie Wojta.
The third-team members: Connecticut senior Tiffany Hayes, Kentucky junior A’dia Mathies, Duke freshman Elizabeth Williams, Tennessee senior Shekinna Stricklen and Miami senior Riquna Williams.
It marked only the second time since the all-America team was first honored in 1995 that no Tennessee or Connecticut player made either the first or second team. It also happened in 2005.
The preseason all-America team was Griner, Diggins, Ogwumike, Johnson and Stricklen.