The NCAA women’s basketball season kicks off next week, but with the graduation of UConn great Maya Moore in the Spring, women’s college hoops needs another player to idolize.
Enter: Brittney Griner.
The junior center for the Baylor Bears stands at 6-foot-8 and terrorizes opposing players both on offense and defense. Last season she led her team to a 34-3 finish, averaging 23 points and 8 rebounds per game. During her freshman year, Griner logged an NCAA season record 223 blocked shots, including a NCAA tournament record 14 in one game. And in Baylor’s exhibition game on Monday night against Colorado’s Western State University, Griner had 16 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks in just the first 18 minutes.
Only A Game‘s Ron Schachter reports from Waco, Texas, where Griner’s dominance on the court is appreciated by fans and players alike.
“She’s the best player I’ve ever seen,” says Mary Feltner, long-time Bears season ticket holder. ”And I’ve been seeing basketball for many, many years. I dont even think there’s many men that compare to her. She’s got skill and grace, she’s great. Best in the country.”
Baylor’s junior forward Destiny Williams agrees that Griner is an undeniable asset to the team.
“She has the athleticism of, like, a 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2 post player and she runs the floor well, she has great hands,” Williams says. ”She’s just a phenomenal player is what I would call it, and it’s not often that you see a 6-foot-8 female that can do what she does.”
The Bears had no trouble shutting down Western State. They won the game 94-24. Ranked No. 1 in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today coaches polls, Baylor expects to compete their way to a national championship.
Richard Deitsch, who writes about women’s college basketball for Sports Illustrated, says that this is likely to Griner’s most commanding season yet.
“When she evntually figures out how to play the game, when the cognitive abilities match the athletic abilities, which I think a lot of people think is going to happen her junior year, you’re talking about someone who’s unguardable,” Deitsch says. “That doesn’t necessarily mean Baylor’s going to win the championship, but, man, does that give them a leg up to start.”