Sunday, April 19, 2009

PARADE's All-America High School Girls Basketball Team


You'd never know it from watching her, but Brittney Griner—the 2009 Player of the Year on PARADE's 33rd annual All-America High School Girls Basketball Team—is still relatively new to the game. Until ninth grade, the 6-foot-8 center from Houston's Nimitz High was more likely to be seen on the soccer field or volleyball court. Then, she says, "I started playing basketball, and it just felt right."

The numbers don't lie. Griner opened her senior year with 25 blocked shots against Hastings High—a new national high school rec-ord. This season, she hit 70% from the floor, averaging 28 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 8.5 blocks a game. Videos of her spectacular—and frequent—dunks have gotten more than 5 million views on YouTube. She has speed, agility, a love of basketball, and an 86-inch wingspan. Her upside is limitless.

Brittney Griner's highlights from the Texas 5A state semi-final last month in Austin.

"Griner has the potential to be one of the best women ever to play the game," says Glenn Nelson, who follows high school and college girls basketball for ESPN. "Her dunks are exciting, but her size and athleticism will change the women's game like [former NBA great] Bill Russell did in the men's game."

Off the court, Griner is a B student who plays video games, crochets, fixes cars, and has volunteered with other local athletes to give food to the needy. A self-described daddy's girl, she plans to study criminal law and eventually follow her father into law enforcement. "After basketball, I want to be a police officer, like my dad," she says.

For now, however, she'll take her game (and size-17 shoes) to Baylor. And, as head of our 40-girl roster, she offers this advice to other athletes: "Believe in yourself, and never give up when others say you won't be able to do things."

This year's All-Americans—selected by coaches, scouts, and recruiters across the country—come from 19 states. Texas and California lead the pack, with six each. In addition to Griner, repeat selections from last year include First Team honorees Skylar Diggins, Kelsey Bone, and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.

Top Players

Skylar Diggins
Notre Dame-bound Diggins is the No. 1 point guard in the nation, averaging 29 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. She has a 3.9 GPA at Washington High in South Bend, Ind.

Kelsey Bone
Bone averaged 19.2 points and 8.7 rebounds a game for Dulles High in Sugar Land, Tex. "She's a winner," says former NBA star John Lucas, her private coach.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
Mosqueda-Lewis is the best sophomore in the nation on one of the best teams in the country: Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., which finished the season 32-1.

Tayler Hill
With more than 3700 points, Hill is Minnesota's all-time leading scorer for girls and boys. This season, she averaged 32 points a game for South High in Minneapolis.

Markel Walker
Walker averaged 26.8 points while shooting about 50% from the floor for Pittsburgh's Schenley High. "UCLA is getting one of the best they'll ever get," coach Debbie Lewis says.

PARADE's 2009 All-America High School Girls Basketball Team

First Team (Name, School, City, Height)

Brittney Griner Nimitz Houston, Tex. 6'8"
Skylar Diggins Washington South Bend, Ind. 5'10"
Kelsey Bone Dulles Sugar Land, Tex. 6'5"
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis Mater Dei Santa Ana, Calif. 6'0"
Tayler Hill South Minneapolis, Minn. 5'11"
Markel Walker Schenley Pittsburgh, Pa. 6'1"
Cokie Reed Midway Waco, Tex. 6'4"
Joslyn Tinkle Big Sky Missoula, Mont. 6'3"
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt Williams Alexandria, Va. 5'11"
Kelly Faris Heritage Christian Indianapolis, Ind. 5'11"

Second Team

Jasmine Hassell Wilson Central Lebanon, Tenn. 6'3"
Destiny Williams Benton Harbor Benton Harbor, Mich. 6'2"
Chiney Ogwumike Cy-Fair Cypress, Tex. 6'3"
Monique Oliver Poly Long Beach, Calif. 6'3"
Taber Spani Metro Academy Olathe, Kan. 6'1"
China Crosby Manhattan Center New York, N.Y. 5'7"
Tierra Rogers Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep San Francisco, Calif. 5'11"
Waltia Rolle Westbury Christian Houston, Tex. 6'6"
Bria Hartley North Babylon North Babylon, N.Y. 5'10"
Stephanie Holzer Cardinal O'Hara Springfield, Pa. 6'4"

Third Team

Samarie Walker Chaminade Julienne Dayton, Ohio 6'1"
Sam Ostarello Stanley County Fort Pierre, S.D. 6'2"
Morgan Stroman Lower Richland Hopkins, S.C. 6'2"
Morgan Tuck Bolingbrook Bolingbrook, Ill. 6'2"
Mikaela Ruef Beavercreek Beavercreek, Ohio 6'2"
Chelsea Gray St. Mary's Stockton, Calif. 5'10"
Lindsey Moore Kentwood Covington, Wash. 5'10"
Ieasia Walker O'Connell Copiague Copiague, N.Y. 5'7"
Shanay Washington Del Valle Del Valle, Tex. 6'0"
Alexandria Bentley Ben Davis Indianapolis, Ind. 5'7"

Fourth Team

Anne Marie Armstrong Wesleyan Norcross, Ga. 6'3"
Mariah Chandler Southwest Atlanta Christian Atlanta, Ga. 6'1"
Lauren Avant Lausanne Collegiate Memphis, Tenn. 5'9"
Laurin Mincy University Newark, N.J. 6'0"
DeNesha Stallworth Pinole Valley Pinole, Calif. 6'3"
Sugar Rodgers King's Fork Suffolk, Va. 5'10"
Bianca Lutley American Heritage Plantation, Fla. 5'11"
Layshia Clarendon Cajon San Bernardino, Calif. 5'9"
Jennifer O'Neill St. Michael Academy New York, N.Y. 5'6"
Amber Henson Sickles Tampa, Fla. 6'4"

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