April 3, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Mitch
Dominant center has led unbeaten Lady Bears to final
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DENVER (USBWA) - Baylor sensation Brittney Griner received the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's newly-named Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year Award Tuesday morning at the association's annual awards breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel, NCAA headquarters for the Women's Final Four. Griner is the 25th recipient of the USBWA National Player of the Year Award.


Meyers Drysdale, the former UCLA four-time All-American and current vice president of the WNBA Phoenix Sun and NBA Phoenix Mercury, was at the breakfast to help make the presentation. However, because Griner and Kim Mulkey, who received the previously announced USBWA coach of the year award, were involved in preparations for Tuesday night's NCAA title showdown with Notre Dame, Julie Bennett, sports information for the Bears, accepted both awards on behalf of Griner and Mulkey.

"She's very appreciate of this award, she's appreciative of all basketball writers around the nation," Bennett said of Mulkey's reaction to the USBWA coaching award. "How you cover our sport and it seems to get better and better all the time."

Griner, a 6-8 center from Houston, Texas, went into Tuesday night's championship with a 23.2 points per game average, seventh in the nation, and a 9.4 rebounding average. However, her most notable skill, besides being able to dunk, is as a fierce shot blocker. She has a nation-leading 201 rejections, almost 100 more than her closest persuer, for a 5.15 average per game.

"She thought it was pretty cool when I told her about who Ann Meyers was," Bennett said of Griner's reaction to winning the award. "Brittney appreciates that and she respects everybody so much for giving her this award."

On Saturday Griner dispensed of all speculation, saying she would return for her senior year. Because she turns 22 she has the option to forego her senior year of eligibility and enter the NBA draft latr this month.

The naming of the national player of the year award for Meyers Drysdale was announced last week but on Tuesday morning the USBWA added another namesake on a women's award. After Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick accepted the Women's Most Courageous Award on behalf of legendary Hall of Famer Pat Summitt, who is battling early onset dementia, Alzheimer type, Mel Greenberg, the women's representative on the USBWA board of directors announced future winners would receive the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award.

Given her first chance to react to the honor and to also help make the presentation, Meyers Drysdale said, "I've been around an awfully long time. Certainly there were not a lot of awards when I was first starting up. There are many more today. This, because of the writers and the knowledge they have of all the players throughout the country, certainly sets it apart. And to be associared with it, there's no question it's such an honor for me, honestly.

"To have Brittney Griner as the first recipient of this award means so much for what she's done for the game, how she's changed the game, how she carries herself and it really means a lot to have somebody like that who is so humble in herself to be a game changer. So this is really special for me today and I know throughout the years it's going to grow and be even more recognized."

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association, formed in 1956, has named a women's All-America team since the 1996-97 season. The association has also named a national player of the year since 1987-88 and a national coach of the year since 1989-90. This season marked the first time the USBWA named a weekly national player of the week. In 2002-03, the USBWA initiated an award for the nation's top freshman. For more information about the USBWA and its award programs, contact Executive Director Joe Mitch in the Missouri Valley Conference office at 314-444-4325.

1988 Sue Wicks, Rutgers
1989 Clarissa Davis, Texas
1990 Jennifer Azzi, Stanford
1991 Dawn Staley, Virginia
1992 Dawn Staley, Virginia
1993 Sheryl Swoopes, Texas Tech
1994 Lisa Leslie, USC
1995 Rebecca Lobo, Connecticut
1996 Saudia Roundtree, Georgia
1997 Kate Starbird, Stanford
1998 Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee
1999 Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee
2000 Tamika Catchings, Tennessee
2001 Ruth Riley, Notre Dame
2002 Sue Bird, Connecticut
2003 Diana Taurasi, Connecticut
2004 Alana Beard, Duke
2005 Seimone Augustus, LSU
2006 Ivory Latta, North Carolina
2007 Candace Parker, Tennessee
2008 Candace Parker, Tennessee
2009 Maya Moore, Connecticut
2010 Tina Charles, Connecticut
2011 Maya Moore, Connecticut
2012 Brittney Griner, Baylor
The award was named in honor of Ann Meyers Drysdale in 2012