Griner the best to play women’s college hoops?
Brittney Griner’s unparalleled college career is over, earlier
than expected and without another NCAA championship. Her place
among the all-time best is secure.
From her powerful blocked shots to highlight-reel dunks,
Griner’s dominance on both ends of the court was simply unequaled
as she drew in new fans to the women’s game. They include LeBron
James, who said he met her when she was a senior in high school in
Houston and has been keeping tabs on Griner ever since.
”She’s awesome. It’s not fair. It’s like Wilt (Chamberlain),”
James said. ”She’s out there like Wilt. That’s what would be my
imagination, if I was able to see Wilt live and what he was doing
to those guys back in the day, that’s what she’s doing to these
girls right now. She’s too big. She’s too strong.”
James said he would have loved to see Griner play against Lisa
Leslie in her prime.
Griner was floored when told of the praise by her idol.
”Definitely happy for the `King’ to say that about me,” she
said. ”Him being one of my favorite players, for him to compare me
to Wilt and Lisa, it’s humbling.”
Griner had one up on Chamberlain as she did win a national
championship. She just couldn’t get a second one as the Lady Bears
lost to Louisville 82-81 on Sunday night in one of the greatest
upsets in women’s NCAA tournament history.
Winning only one title might be the only knock on Griner. Still,
many think she belongs on the Mount Rushmore of women’s college
basketball with fellow stars like Diana Taurasi, who won three
titles at Connecticut. The two will almost surely be teammates in
the WNBA since Phoenix has the first pick in the draft in two
”I can only speak for my era and I didn’t see Anne Donovan,
Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers play. But I can’t imagine they were
more dominant,” former UConn star Rebecca Lobo said. ”To me she’s
been the most dominant player and one of the best ever. Since she
ended up with just one championship that might change things a
little bit on how others view her, but there isn’t a post player
I’d want to play against less than her.”
Ever humble, Griner didn’t think she belonged near the top of
”Not me, that’s for sure,” she said. ”I don’t know, let’s see
what I do in the pros, then we’ll talk about that.”
That’s the next chance we will get to see her.
The Louisville game was the last for Griner and four other
Baylor seniors – post players Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams,
along with Jordan Madden and Kimetria Hayden, the guards who
arrived in Waco with Griner nearly four years ago. Coach Kim
Mulkey’s Lady Bears could have a much different look without that
post presence inside. They will have standout point guard Odyssey
Sims back for her senior season, with Alexis Prince and Niya
Johnson, who got their first experience as freshmen this
Replacing Griner will be impossible.
She is the second all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history, with
3,283 points. She is the top shot blocker ever, shattering both the
men’s and women’s college marks with 748. She had 18 dunks; only
six other women have ever dunked in a college game and the group
had 15 combined.
The Lady Bears went 27-10 her first season, and made it to the
Final Four before a national semifinal loss to Connecticut. They
are 106-5 since, including a 40-0 mark last season, the first in
”I just feel like I’m adding on,” she said. ”I guess you can
say I’m changing the defensive end … just because I’m so big and
I move. I’m not stationary.
”I want people to look back and be like, `Dang, I remember when
I played her back in college, she was a game-changer on the
defensive end,” Griner added. ”I want that to be my mark on the
What sets Griner apart from so many of the other previous stars
is her ability to dominate the entire court.
”How many possessions over the course of her career has she
influenced on both sides of the court?” ESPN announcer Doris Burke
said. ”More than any player in history. She’s one of a handful
that I’ve witnessed that influence winning to an extraordinary
On Sunday, Louisville found a way to take Griner out of the
equation on defense, matching an NCAA tournament record with 16
3-pointers. A lot of teams had tried that strategy against Griner:
Baylor’s opponents, avoiding the paint, averaged nearly 20 3s a
game over the course of her career, nearly four more than the year
before she came.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who went to
Baylor, came to Denver last season and celebrated with the Lady
Bears when they won the national championship. He was upset by the
loss to Louisville, suggesting Griner was fouled hard and often by
Louisville, taking to Twitter to vent his frustrations in support
of his beloved team.
Mulkey, who played and coached against some of the best that
women’s basketball has had to offer, put Griner at the top of the
”I’ve said it many times, I’ve run out of adjectives to
describe Brittney Griner,” she said. ”Brittney Griner, after
winning the national championship last year, should have erased any
doubt in people’s minds as the greatest to ever play the
AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins in Waco, Texas and Tim
Reynolds in Miami helped contribute to this report.
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