Monday, April 22, 2013

Pat Summitt's life chronicled in film 'Pat XO'

The story of Pat Summitt's life debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Hall of Fame coach, who has early onset dementia, was part of the audience Sunday for a screening of the documentary "Pat XO."

Summitt's son, Tyler, is the lead storyteller, spending time with his mother on a couch in their home going through a scrapbook of her life. The film starts from Summitt's earliest days and goes through her retirement from coaching last April.

The filmmakers gave cameras to those who know the Tennessee coach best. Former players Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Marciniak and Candace Parker all told stories of their beloved mentor.

The show is part of ESPN Films' Nine for IX documentary series. It will be broadcast July 9.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Randy Smith: Congratulations Geno: But Think Again

Following UConn’s 93-60 win over Louisville Tuesday night in the NCAA Women’s National Championship Game, Huskies Coach Geno Auriemma was quoted as saying, “The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record puts you in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach who ever lived.” The quote came in a story from Associated Press reporter Doug Feinberg, and if that is truly what Geno said, he may have some explaining to do.

“The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record,”(8 NCAA Titles) “puts you,”(Meaning Geno himself) “in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach who ever lived.” Wow…..that’s like Coach “Bear” Bryant claiming he was the king of college football, when he won his 300th career game, or Coach Pat Summitt herself proclaiming she was the greatest basketball coach of all time when she won her 1000th game. But…Coach Bryant didn’t and neither did Pat.

Read the rest of the story.

Catching up with Holly Warlick and Her Lady Vols

After returning from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention in New Orleans on Tuesday, Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick took some time to visit with local media members on Wednesday.

Warlick, who was named the 2013 Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year on Monday night in New Orleans, talked about the legacy that Dixon left during her brief time as a head coach and her hope to do justice to the late Army coach, whose last game before her death in April 2006 was against Tennessee in the NCAA First Round.

“I knew Maggie personally and knew what she stood for – hard work and a tremendous love for her players,” Warlick said. “I said at the awards banquet that if I could lead by that example to our players, that would be awesome.

“It was a very humbling award for me. It’s about your players and who you surround yourself with, and I have a great staff. It’s kind of hard for me to get an individual award when I know how much everybody goes and puts into it.

“Maggie was an outstanding coach and better yet an outstanding person. I hope I can live up to those expectations.”

WNBA Draft Approaches For Taber Spani and Kamiko Williams
The WNBA Draft will take place at 8 p.m. on April 15 in Bristol, Conn., at the ESPN Studios. ESPN2 will provide coverage of the first round and will hand off to ESPNU for the second and third rounds, as the draft is televised live during prime time for the first time in the 17th-year history of the league.

Tennessee seniors Taber Spani and Kamiko Williams will wait for their names to be called. A total of 34 Lady Vols have been taken in the WNBA Draft through the years, including 15 in the first round, and Warlick believes these two have earned a chance to be chosen on Monday.

“I think they’ll both be drafted. I think, number one, Kamiko’s stock went up because of how hard she played this year. We saw that in her; it just took a while to get it out of her.

“She’s athletic, she can shoot the three, she’s a great defender, and I think the WNBA is in need of some really strong defenders. I think she’s got a chance.

“I think Taber (will) with her long-range threes and she’s shown the ability to penetrate as well. I think both of those young ladies are going to get looks. They have to go and make the team, but I think they’ll get the opportunity to do that.”

Not Being At The Final Four Is Incentive Enough
UConn tied Tennessee’s total of eight NCAA titles Tuesday night when it defeated Louisville for the 2013 crown. Warlick was asked whether that would serve as a motivating factor for her team as it enters the 2013-14 campaign.

“I think just not being at the Final Four is an incentive in itself. We’ll use that as our motivation.”

A Music City Final Four Beckons
Nashville will serve as the host of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four at Bridgestone Arena on April 6 & 8. With Isabelle Harrison hailing from Music City and Bashaara Graves a product of Clarksville in the mid-state, Warlick said making it to the Final Four in their own backyard will be a big motivator for next year’s team.

“It’s huge. It’s huge for us. It’s been a goal for us (getting to the Final Four). It was a goal for us this year, and we came up short. We’d love to be in a Final Four in our home state; that’s going to be our goal.”

Excited About The Off-Season
Even with the season just completed, Warlick and her staff are anxious to get back on the court and begin preparing for next season. She is excited about the prospects of having all of her players around over the summer.

“I can’t wait. We get our freshmen in this summer. All of our kids are staying this summer. It’s an exciting time to look to the future and rebuild this team. I wish we were starting tomorrow with practice and starting a new season.

“I think we are going to use the time to work on some things, defensively, some ball-handling, fundamental skills we need to work on before we get into team stuff. I am already excited about the new year and excited about our kids coming in.”

Heralded Signing Class
Tennessee has one of the top signing classes in the country coming in for the 2013-14 season. At 6-foot-6, Mercedes Russell was the Gatorade National Player of the Year and the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game. She’ll be joined by strong, athletic guards in 5-11 Jordan Reynolds and 6-0 Jannah Tucker.

Like Russell, Reynolds posted a points-rebounds double-double in the McDonald’s game in Chicago. Tucker, meanwhile, missed her final prep campaign with a knee injury but was one of the most-heralded players in this year’s high school senior class. Warlick welcomes the trio with open arms.

“All three of them are going to be huge for us. Mercedes Russell is going to give us a tremendous presence inside along with what we have. Jordan Reynolds is going to give us some needed help at the point position. I look forward to her there.

Nobody really knows about Jannah Tucker right now. She got hurt playing with USA Basketball. She’s been on the radar forever and was one of the top eight players in the country as a junior. She didn’t make any of the all-star teams because she sat out the year to rehab her knee.

All three of those will have a major impact for us. They’ll give us depth, they’ll give us some energy, and they are extremely talented young ladies.”

Taking It Slow With Andraya Carter
Freshman Andraya Carter continues to rehab her right shoulder after undergoing surgery on Dec. 13. She has gradually worked her way back into drills and avoids obvious situations where contact could occur.

“She’s been practicing with us. Certain things on her shoulder are every other day, but we’re taking it slow because we don’t have to rush. She looks good, and she’s getting in better shape. We need her. We need her leadership, and we need her to be part of this program on the floor.”

Champions For A Cause
Warlick and LSU coach and former UT player and staff member Nikki Caldwell will be riding their motorcycles again this summer for their Champions for a Cause organization. They raise money and bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer through various events each year.

“We are going to Panama City for their big bike week the first week in May (May 1-6) and trying to raise some money. There’s probably a little bit more awareness (generated) when we ride on motorcycles, so we’re going to continue to do that. We’ll meet up with Nikki (Caldwell) as she comes from Baton Rouge.”

Missouri State hires Kellie Harper as coach

Kellie Harper, fired two weeks ago by North Carolina State, was hired Wednesday as the new women’s basketball coach at Missouri State.

The university said Harper agreed to a five-year contract paying $145,000 annually, plus $60,000 for radio and television shows. The contract also includes performance incentives.

“My first priorities are the team, the staff and our signees,” Harper said. “We’ll get started on those things right away.”

Athletic director Kyle Moats said Harper “comes from a great basketball pedigree, and she is widely regarded as a great tactician.” She played for her father at White County High School in Sparta, Tenn., then was a point guard for three national championship teams under Pat Summitt at Tennessee.

Harper, 35, has a career record of 167-128 in nine seasons. She was 97-65 in five seasons at Western Carolina, making the NCAA Tournament twice and the Women’s NIT twice; and 70-64 in four seasons at North Carolina State, with one NCAA and two WNIT appearances.

North Carolina State fired Harper soon after the end of this past season. Her first team there was 20-14, but she was just 50-50 over the last three seasons, including 16-32 in the ACC.

At Missouri State, she inherits a team that returns nine players next season. Nyla Milleson’s contract was not renewed after the Lady Bears were 14-17 in 2012-13.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Pat Summitt, Magic Johnson and Boo Williams honored by basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that 12-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson, Hall of Fame Coach Pat Summitt and youth basketball ambassador Boo Williams, have all been named winners of the 2013 Mannie Jackson - Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. The winners will be recognized on September 7th during events leading up to the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremonies.

“This year’s winners of the Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award have all contributed greatly to the game of basketball and are active members in their community,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “It is an honor to recognize and celebrate these three distinguished humanitarians, all of whom have dedicated their lives to helping others through the game they love.”

The criteria for award winners includes embracing the core values of the game, hard work, striving to improve the community and making a commitment to others. Beyond the game, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for his or her actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence.

Johnson, Summitt and Williams were chosen from a group of nine finalists after nominations were screened by a distinguished selection committee, appointed by the Hall of Fame and Mr. Jackson. Beginning in 2009, the finalists were grouped in three categories, representing the professional, amateur and grassroots levels of basketball.

Previous winners of the award include current NBA players Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups and Samuel Dalembert; former NBA All-Star and Georgetown standout Alonzo Mourning; former Harlem Globetrotter and college basketball All-American Dr. John “Jumpin’ Johnny” Kline; former Georgetown University center and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo; Philadelphia legend Sonny Hill; former NBA official Ken Hudson; Hall of Famers Bob Lanier, David Robinson, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun; President and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sport, Dr. Richard Lapchick and The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Representing the Amateur ranks:
Pat Summitt – For nearly four decades, Summitt led the Tennessee Lady Vols program to 16 SEC Championships, eight NCAA titles and seven NCAA Coach of the Year awards. In August 2011, Summitt announced that she was battling with early onset dementia, “Alzheimer’s type.” She finished the 2011-12 season and in November, she revealed the formation of her foundation, the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund with the proceeds going toward cutting-edge research. The Huntington Post named Summitt a 2011 Game Changer – an innovator, leader and role model who is changing the way we look at the world and the way we live. President Barack Obama presented her on April 19, 2012 in the White House with the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom award. She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Holly Warlick receives Maggie Dixon award

Tennessee’s Holly Warlick spoke of her first season as the Lady Vols coach last week as if she were in construction.

“I think we’ve laid a foundation,” she said.

The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association honored Warlick’s work Monday night with the Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year award.

The award was announced at the WBCA convention, which is being held in New Orleans in conjunction with the Women’s Final Four.

In her first season in charge, Warlick led a relatively inexperienced Tennessee team to an SEC regular-season championship and was named the conference coach of the year. UT finished with 27 victories and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament before losing to Louisville in the Oklahoma City regional final, 86-78.

Monday’s award was given in honor of the late Maggie Dixon, the former Army coach who died in 2006 of heart problems at age 28.

Warlick, a longtime Lady Vols assistant, replaced Pat Summitt last April. The Tennessee coaching legend stepped down after 38 seasons. Warlick has paid tribute to Summitt throughout the season for her mentoring and influence. Summitt has maintained a presence by serving as the Lady Vols head coach emeritus.

Still, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said last week in Oklahoma City that she already detects Warlick’s influence on the program.

“I think she’s done an amazing job,” Coale said. “In many ways, it is vintage Tennessee ... All this is Tennessee and has been Tennessee for decades.

“Yet there’s a little something about ’em that’s different, and it’s hard to put a title on. I don’t really know how to even describe it. But there’s a little something different. That’s Holly Warlick. That’s the stamp she’s putting on the program.”

When the coaching change took place last April, Warlick agreed to a four-year deal with a base salary of $485,000. Summitt received a one-year deal in her new role with a salary of $354,375.

When asked last week for comment about whether Warlick’s season warrants a raise and Summitt’s future with the team, UT spokesperson Jimmy Stanton said that both topics would be addressed, “at the appropriate time.”

Lady Vols approach offseason with urgency

When Tennessee’s coaches met with their players last week, they urged the Lady Vols to separate the “off” from “season” when considering the next four-plus months.

Assistant coach Dean Lockwood referred to the time between now and the start of preseason women’s basketball workouts next August as a season in itself. The period has been assigned a different sort of urgency after Tennessee stumbled in the Oklahoma City regional final, losing to Louisville 86-78.

The way in which Tennessee lost — falling behind by 20 points before responding — will linger with coach Holly Warlick.

“I think there was a little bit of jitters,” she said. “We have to get past that. That’s up to us. We thought we prepared them the right way. Apparently we didn’t.”

The players’ mandate involves addressing their individual skills and improving their overall play.

“Where we are right now is not quite good enough; we have to be better,” Lockwood said. “That onus falls on every player.”

In an interview on the News Sentinel’s “Sports Page” radio show last Friday, Lockwood said, “In programs like ours, it’s generally understood, you’re always trying out. You’re always competing. There are no guarantees. There are no assurances.”

Lockwood went on to say, “It’s not cutthroat. At the end of the day, we need all of our players.”

The roll call includes incoming freshmen Mercedes Russell, Jordan Reynolds and Jannah Tucker. They figure to ratchet the competition for roles and playing time.

In Russell’s case, the impact could be dramatic. Although she’s been listed at 6-foot-5, Lockwood said that Russell actually stands at least 6-6. She was the most valuable player of the McDonald’s girls All-American game last Wednesday, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. During her high school career in Springfield, Ore., Russell scored 2,273 points, grabbed 1,642 rebounds and blocked 562 shots.

Warlick said Russell “makes us better in all aspects.”

Lockwood expects UT to experiment with a front line of Russell, 6-3 Isabelle Harrison and 6-2 Bashaara Graves.

“At one point or another, we’re going to look at that group playing together, whether they start or don’t start,” Lockwood said.

Reynolds, a 5-foot-11 guard from Portland, scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the McDonald’s game. Lockwood described Reynolds as primarily a point guard but with combo-guard skills. She will join Andraya Carter — who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last December — in the competition at point guard, along with returning starter Ariel Massengale.

“I think it’s going to be very interesting and that’s a very, very good thing,” Lockwood said. “There’s going to be a high level of competition for that position. I think it’s going to be very good for our program.”

Tucker’s profile has been diminished some by a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament suffered last summer. The injury robbed the 6-foot wing player from Randallstown, Md., of her senior season. Still, Lockwood foresees Tucker as someone who will play with “physical strength and toughness” and has the capability to shoot 3-pointers and drive the basket.

All three incoming freshmen, along with the returning players, likely will attend at least one session of summer school. Warlick said that new NCAA guidelines allow a coach to work with up to four players at a time for two hours per week when they are enrolled in summer school.

“I think it’s important for us to have that opportunity,” Warlick said. “It helps us set a tone for what a workout looks like.”

In that sense, they can make the offseason seem more like a season in itself.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Manning giving $500,000 to Summitt Foundation

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his wife plan to donate $500,000 to the Pat Summitt Foundation.

Patrick Wade, the director of the Pat Summitt Foundation, confirmed the Mannings' decision Saturday after it was first reported by CBS Sports.

The commitment by Peyton and Ashley Manning represents the largest gift announcement made to the foundation since it was founded in November 2011 to help fight Alzheimer's disease. Manning, who played at Tennessee from 1994-97, is an honorary co-chair of the foundation's advisory board.

Summitt stepped down as the Tennessee women's basketball coach last April after announcing in 2011 she had early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She went 1,098-208 and won eight national titles in 38 seasons. Summitt remains on Tennessee's staff as head coach emeritus.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Lady Vols look to future after disappointing NCAA loss

Tennessee has served notice it will remain nationally relevant in the
post-Pat Summitt era.

The next step is to become elite again.

After being picked to finish as low as fifth in the Southeastern
Conference, Tennessee won the league's regular-season title. But the
Lady Vols believe they squandered a golden opportunity Tuesday
byfalling 86-78 to Louisville in the Oklahoma City Regional final.

"We thought we had a good year, but we didn't have a great year," said
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, who replaced Summitt this season after
serving as her assistant for 27 years. "That's just the nature of our
program and expectations, whether you're Pat Summitt or myself, it's
just what we're all about. It's in our blood. It's in our makeup."

Tennessee won consecutive national titles in 2007 and 2008, but the
Lady Vols haven't returned to the Final Four since. That represents
Tennessee's longest Final Four drought since the NCAA started running
the women's tourney in 1982.

Consider it a testament to the standards Summitt set that the Lady
Vols could feel disappointed at the end of a season in which they
outperformed national expectations.

Summitt stepped down as Tennessee's coach in April 2012 after
announcing in 2011 she had early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She
won 1,098 games at Tennessee and led the Lady Vols to eight national
titles and 18 Final Fours.

Warlick took over for Summitt and inherited a roster that didn't
include a single player who had started an NCAA Tournament game last

Tennessee was fourth in the SEC preseason media poll, while the
league's coaches predicted the Lady Vols would finish fifth in the
conference. The Lady Vols were ranked 20th in the preseason Top 25.
After getting stunned by Chattanooga in their season opener, they
dropped to 24th, their lowest ranking since 1985.

"Quite frankly, I was wondering what did I get myself into," Warlick
said. "And the first person I saw (after the Chattanooga game) was
Coach Summitt, and she just assured me things would get better. She
told me that she lost her first game, and I thought, 'Well, you know,
Coach Summitt lost her first game. I'm going to be OK.' "

The Lady Vols also encountered plenty of injuries. Freshman guard
Andraya Carter underwent season-ending shoulder surgery after starting
five of Tennessee's first seven games. Sophomore center Isabelle
Harrison missed 10 games with injuries to her right ankle and both
knees. Sophomore forward Cierra Burdick sat out eight games with a
broken right hand.

Yet the Lady Vols finished 27-8 and reached a regional final for the
third straight season.

The Lady Vols "believed in each other," senior guard Kamiko Williams
said. "Our coaching staff believed in us. And we just stuck together.
It was a family. And we just bonded, and I love that about my
teammates and our coaching staff. Like I told them in the locker room,
I'll take this team over the past three teams I've been on, because
I've never seen so much fight in a group of girls."

Williams and Spani, the Lady Vols' only two seniors, exemplified the
team's tenacity.

Spani briefly fell out of the starting lineup early in the season.
Williams played fewer than 10 minutes in each of Tennessee's first two
games. By the end of the season, they arguably were Tennessee's two
best players.

Wiilliams scored a career-high 18 points in a victory over Texas A&M
that clinched the SEC regular-season title. Spani had 20 second-half
points against Louisville as Tennessee nearly came all the way back
from a 20-point deficit. Each averaged 11.8 points in the NCAA
tournament to tie for the team lead.

"They're tremendous leaders for us this year, and they put their heart
and soul in the whole year," Warlick said.

The Lady Vols return everyone but Kamiko Williams and Taber Spani next
season, including third-team All-America guard Meighan Simmons and SEC
newcomer of the year Bashaara Graves. Tennessee also adds a heralded
group of freshmen that features 6-foot-6 post player Mercedes Russell,
rated by ESPN's Hoop Gurlz recruiting service as the nation's No. 1
prospect in her class.

The way this season ended should give Tennessee plenty of motivation.
Louisville's upset of defending national champion Baylor on Sunday
appeared to give Tennessee a much easier path to the Final Four, but
the Lady Vols couldn't capitalize.

"That's the great thing and the amazing thing about this program,"
Spani said. "No matter what the transition was, no matter what it
looked like, no matter what excuse you might put out, if you're a
young team or not, the bar is the Final Four.

"I think that's what makes this program special. So to come short of
that is disappointing."

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Louisville 86, Tennessee 78

One mammoth upset wasn't enough for Shoni Schimmel and plucky Louisville.

Going through two of the sport's powers, the Cardinals are Final Four bound.

Schimmel scored 24 points and Louisville beat second-seeded Tennessee
86-78 Tuesday night to earn the school's second trip to the Final

Two nights after taking down Brittney Griner and defending national
champion Baylor, the fifth-seeded Cardinals (28-8) built a 20-point
lead and then withstood a second-half comeback by the powerhouse Lady
Vols (27-8) before celebrating another amazing victory.

When it was over, the Cardinals huddled at center court and
celebrated. Tennessee headed home with a third straight loss in the
regional finals, failing to make the Final Four for a fifth straight

"We ruined the entire party," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "We're
the ugly ducklings that ruined the party. No one gave us a chance and
we shocked everybody. It's a journey and we're going to continue."

Taber Spani led the Lady Vols with 20 points, and Meighan Simmons and
Kamiko Williams chipped in 12 apiece.

Louisville joined the school's men's team in the Final Four, marking
the 10th time that a program had both teams make it that far. Only
Connecticut has won both titles in the same season, in 2004 .

The Cardinals became only the second No. 5 seed to reach the national
semifinals, joining Southwest Missouri State's 2001 team that featured
guard Jackie Stiles, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history.

Only seven teams outside of the top four seeds have ever made it to
the Final Four since the NCAA tournament started in 1982.

No team seeded higher than fourth has ever won a game at the Final
Four. But the seemingly impossible hasn't stopped this group of
Cardinals yet.

First, they took down Griner and her Baylor team that had lost just
once in 75 games.

Then, it was the eight-time national champion Lady Volunteers.

"No one wanted to see us beat Baylor and Tennessee and we did both of
those and now we're going to the Final Four," Schimmel said.

Next up is a Sunday showdown in New Orleans against California, the
Spokane regional champion.

The Cardinals' only other Final Four trip was in 2009, ending in a
loss to Big East rival Connecticut in the championship game.

Louisville rode a hefty rebounding advantage and another solid 3-point
shooting outing — especially when compared to Tennessee's 0 for 9
start — to take a 49-29 edge 90 seconds after halftime following
back-to-back 3s from Antonita Slaughter and Schimmel.

That same tandem combined for 12 of the Cardinals' 16 treys, matching
the NCAA tournament record, in an epic upset of Baylor.

Spani finally broke Tennessee's 3-point drought right after that, and
the Lady Vols were able to chip away at the 20-point deficit. Their
full-court pressure, which wasn't tight enough to prevent over-the-top
passes for layup s in the first half, started to be effective.

Tennessee gave up just one basket over an 8-minute span, and Williams'
short jumper at the end of an 18-6 rally got the Lady Vols as close as
68-65 with 4:28 remaining.

Spani missed a 3-pointer from the right wing that would have tied it
on the next possession, and Tennesee's comeback fizzled after that.

Schimmel had a pair of driving layups and sister Jude Schimmel hit a
3-poitner and set up Slaughter for a reverse layup in a 9-3 burst for
Louisville. Even when Meighan Simmons, who started out 1 for 22 in the
two games in Oklahoma City, hit three late 3-pointers, it wasn't
enough for Tennessee.

The Cardinals shouted "Louisville!" at the logo in the middle of the
court in celebration. Spani, a senior, dropped to her knees in tears
at the final buzzer.

Louisville came out firing from long range again and connected four
times in first seven attempts while building an early 21-11 advantage.

Then, it was a sticky 1-3-1 zone defense that propelled Louisville on
an 8-0 run, keeping the Lady Vols scoreless for a 5½ minute stretch,
to expand the lead out to 31-14 after Sherrone Vails' putback with
3:51 to go until halftime.

Just like in the previous round, when a 19-point lead disappeared
before Monique Reid's winning free throws in the final seconds, the
Cardinals had to hang on for dear life at the end.

Meighan Simmons named third-team All-American

Meighan Simmons was honored last month as one of the top women’s basketball players in the SEC.

On Tuesday, Tennessee’s junior guard was recognized as one of the nation’s best. She was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.

Simmons was named co-conference player of the year, as voted by the league coaches. She shared the award with Kentucky guard A’dia Mathies, who made AP’s second-team All-America squad.

Simmons was joined on AP’s third team by Texas A&M’s Kelsey Bone, Duke’s Elizabeth Williams, Connecticut’s Stefanie Dolson and Kayla McBride of Notre Dame.

Baylor stars Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims made the first team along with Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne.

Mathies was joined on the second team by Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Penn State’s Maggie Lucas and Duke’s Chelsea Gray.