Connecticut sensation Maya Moore became only the second freshman selected to The Associated Press women’s All-America team, an honor her coach hoped would not prove a burden during the NCAA tournament.
Moore was joined on the squad Tuesday by repeat All-Americans Candace Parker of Tennessee and Courtney Paris of Oklahoma and first-timers Sylvia Fowles of LSU and Candice Wiggins of Stanford.
To avoid further pressure, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma didn’t want Moore to know of her selection until after the Huskies played Rutgers in the Greensboro Regional final Tuesday night.
“I think given the circumstances, given the spotlight she plays under, I just think she’s matured beyond her years and I don’t know if any kid has had an impact on a team that she’s had,” Auriemma said. “I think the term ‘All-American’ back in the day meant more than just a player.
Moore helped lead the Huskies to the Big East regular-season and conference tournament titles. She was the first freshman—male or female—to win conference player of the year.
Moore broke the conference and school freshman scoring record and has averaged 22 points and 10.3 rebounds in the Huskies’ first three NCAA tournament games.
“If you look at what she’s done for this program, and how she conducts herself, she’s everyone’s All-American,” Auriemma said.
The only other freshman All-American was Paris, a first-teamer for the third straight season. Paris is only the third player to be a three-time All-American, joining Chamique Holdsclaw of Tennessee and Alana Beard of Duke.
“Wow, that’s a special group to be a part of,” said Paris, a junior who extended her double-double streak to 92 games this season. “It’s a huge honor.”
Parker, also a junior, received 250 points and was the only unanimous first-team choice among the 50-member national media panel that votes in the weekly Top 25. The voting was done before the start of the NCAA tournament.
Parker will be graduate in May and most likely will be the first pick in the WNBA draft on April 9.
“I feel like I tried hard to come back and be better this year,” she said.
Wiggins and Fowles also will be picked high in the WNBA draft.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Wiggins, who led Stanford to its first Final Four in 11 years. “I have so much respect for the game, I was honored to be a second-teamer in the past, and now I’m in great company.”
Wiggins helped the Cardinal win their eighth straight Pac-10 title and became the conference’s all-time scoring leader.
Fowles averaged 17 points and helped lead LSU to its fifth straight Final Four.
“I am very honored to be considered one of the best players in the country,” Fowles said. “These awards mean a lot to me.”
Paris had 42 first-team votes and 234 points. Fowles and Wiggins each had 41 and 232, and Moore totaled 37 and 222.
“You put that team on the floor and we would all be fighting over who would be coaching them,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.
Paris, Wiggins, Fowles, and Parker all played this summer with the U.S. select team. They helped the Americans qualify for the Beijing Olympics and will all be part of the U.S. senior team training camp in April.
“I’ve know those girls forever,” Wiggins said. “Maya’s a phenomenal freshman.”
Moore was on the under-19 team that breezed through the world championships last summer.
The second team had an ACC flavor, with conference player of the year Crystal Langhorne and Maryland teammate Kristi Toliver leading the way. North Carolina senior Erlana Larkins, Louisville junior Angel McCoughtry and Oklahoma State sophomore Andrea Riley complete the second team.
The third team included Connecticut teammates Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery. They were joined by Rutgers’ Epiphanny Prince, Middle Tennessee State’s Amber Holt, and Utah’s Leilani Mitchell.
The preseason All-America team was Paris, Parker, Wiggins, Fowles and Langhorne. Joining Paris and Parker on last year’s first team was Lindsey Harding of Duke, Ivory Latta of North Carolina and Jessica Davenport of Ohio State.