Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten for the Decade

We mark the end of the decade with our own all-Virginia team, recognizing the 10 best players of the last 10 years to play Division I basketball in the state.

Some parameters: We only considered players who played at least three seasons in the decade and we started with the 1999-2000 season. If you're looking for James Madison's Dawn Evans, she was not eligible under this criteria. Nor was Lucienne Berthieu, who played just two years in the decade (Berthieu sat out 2000-01 with a torn ACL)

It was a tough cut. We left off Old Dominion's TJ Jordan and Monique Coker, Richmond's Kate Flavin, VCU's Kristine Austgulen, James Madison's Meredith Alexis and William and Mary's Kyra Kaylor. We looked at statistics, obviously, but we also considered impact - one reason why Hollingsworth got the nod over Austgulen.

We think we've picked a solid 10, but as usual, we'd like your thoughts. Who'd we leave out? Who doesn't belong? Please share your comments with us and we'll turn them into a post.


Tamera Young James Madison (2004-2008): Pig tails were her trademark oncourt as was tendency to shoot from any spot on the court. Her 2,121 points are the most ever scored in the Colonial Athletic Association and her 1,127 rebounds ranks third on the list. The CAA's Player of the Year her senior season when she was also an All-America honorable mention, Young led the Dukes to the third round of the WNIT. Her name is everywhere in the JMU record book, including career starts (125), career steals (275), most points scored in a season (693) and games in double figures (44). Young became the first JMU player to be drafted by the WNBA when she was chosen eighth overall by the Atlanta Dream. She hails from Laney High in Wilmington, NC, a place that knows how to produce basketball players.

Ieva Kublina, Virginia Tech (2000-2004): Towering center from Latvia is the leading shot-blocker in Tech history with 256 rejections. Kublina was the Big East's Most Improved Player in 2002, Big East first team in 2003 and Big East second team in 2004. Her 845 rebounds is second all-time at Tech, and her 1,647 points rank her third.Kublina, who started the final 95 games of her collegiate career, was drafted 31st overall by the WNBA's Indiana Fever.

Monica Wright, Virginia (2006-present): The only active player on the list, Virginia's elegant wing guard who stands 5-11 continues to add to a resume that is filled with accolades. A preseason All-American this year and the preseason ACC Player of the Year, Wright scored her 2,000th point against Georgia and has led the Cavaliers in scoring each of the last three years. Her 35 points at Thompson-Boling Arena in 2008 led Virginia to its first victory over Tennessee in 12 years. A finalist for the Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award her junior season, Wright will surely repeat those honors in what is the start of a dynamic senior season.

Hamchetou Maiga, Old Dominion (1998-2002): Mali's Queen of Basketball was also one of the most athletically gifted players to ever step on the court for the storied Lady Monarchs. Maiga was an All-American her senior season and the CAA's Player of the Year in 2002, leading the Lady Monarchs to the Elite Eight. The 6-2 forward was recently honored as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association's Senior Anniversary team. She was drafted eighth by the Houston Comets and captained Mali in the 2008 Olympics.

Shareese Grant, Old Dominion (2001-2005): Impact was a significant factor in determining our all-decade team, and while one game isn't enough to brand you as an elite player, Grant's feat in the CAA tournament championship in 2005 was a marvel. Delaware had swept ODU during the season and dominated them in the first half of the conference championship game at the Patriot Center . With ODU's front line fouled out, Grant rediscovered her smooth touch and the sweet pullup jumper that set her apart. The Virginia Beach native scored a career-high 35 points to rally the Lady Monarchs in overtime. Postgame, disappointed Delaware coach Tina Martin quipped that ODU won because "they had Shareese Grant and we didn't." Grant picked up her third consecutive tournament MVP honors and was named an honorable mention All-American. The 5-8 guard ranks 16th all time in CAA scoring with 1,447 points.

Quanitra Hollingsworth, Virginia Commonwealth 2005-2009: Prodigy from Chesapeake, Va., was in a college uniform at 16 after skipping two grades. The CAA Rookie of the Year, Hollingsworth was a four-time all-league selection who graduated as VCU's all-time leader in rebounds (1,114) and ranks second in career scoring (1,604). During Hollingsworth's senior season, she led the Rams to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. She was drafted ninth overall by the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx and became the youngest American to ever play in the league.

Sharnee Zoll, Virginia 2003-2007: Zoll has been left speechless twice in her life: when she met Allen Iverson and when she broke Dawn Staley's assist record at Virginia. The ACC's all-time assist leader finished with 785 assists at Virginia, averaging at least 6 apg for four years. Zoll scored 1,169 points for Virginia and had 234 steals. She started 131 of 133 games and led the Cavaliers to the NCAA tournament's second round her senior year. The Marlboro, NJ native was the first pick selected in the third round by the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

Katie Feenstra, Liberty (2001-2005): Feenstra's accomplishments are large at Liberty, where she was the three-time Big South Player of the Year. The 6-8 center is the tallest woman to ever play in the Big South. A Wade Trophy, Naismith and Wooden Award nominee ,Feenstra is the all-time shot blocker in the conference. Feenstra finished her career in Liberty as one of only two players in the nation to lead the NCAA in field-goal percentage (2004, 2005), and she is the lone Big South player to earn conference tournament MVP honors three consecutive years. Behind Feenstra's 22 points and 11 rebounds , Liberty defeated Penn State in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2005 and went on to reach the Sweet 16. She was drafted eighth overall by theWNBA's Connecticut Sun in 2005.

Megan Frazee, Liberty (2005-2009): The 2008 Big South Player of the Year, 6-3 Frazee held the distinction of being able to rise in big games. Her career included noteworthy feats against Virginia (37 points, 15 rebounds), North Carolina (18 points, 12 rebounds), North Carolina State (29 points, 7 rebounds) and George Washington (28 points, 10 rebounds). Flames fans will never forget Frazee sinking the game-winner over Radford with 0.3 seconds left in the Big South championship game her junior year. Frazee averaged 18.6 ppg for her career, shooting 59 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3. Sisters Molly and Moriah also played for Liberty as the Frazees are the lone triplets to ever play Division I basketball together.

Jen Derevjanik, George Mason (1999-2004): JenDev started a school record 116 games for the Patriots and ranks third in points (1,637) and assists (469). Derevjanik averaged 17.1 points her senior year and led GMU to the conference championship game with 40 points in the semifinals. The Patriots advanced to the 2004 WNIT, only the second postseason berth for GMU. Undrafted, Derevjanik was one of only 39 players to make the cut for the Connecticut Sun after a two-day free agent camp.

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