2012 Full Court Mid-Major All-American Teams: These Players Can Compete with Anyone

Staff Writer
March 24, 2012 - 5:46am

With additional reporting by Full Court Mid-Major Columnist Paul White and publisher Lee Michaelson.

In any given year, when talk turns to the top women's collegiate basketball players, there are certain names that immediately come to mind. This season, Baylor's Brittney Griner, Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Tennessee's Glory Johnson and Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike are mentioned early and often, and no one can question that they are among the best players around.  They all come from schools in the so-called Super-Six Conferences and they all can be seen on television frequently. 

But you know when you're talking to a true fan of the game when the list extends beyond the Super-Six to such far-flung locations as Dayton, Spokane and Ypsilanti, where there is actually a great deal of outstanding women's basketball being played, much of it beneath the radar.  While the six major NCAA Division I conferences receive the lion's share of the publicity, there are some excellent players who chose life away from the spotlight that attends the NCAA's biggest women's basketball programs.

Some of those players may have been underestimated -- they weren't considered big enough or fast enough or talented enough to compete for the major colleges during the high school recruiting sweepstakes. Some may have been "late-bloomers" whose bodies or skills developed after they left high school, or perhaps these players flourished thanks to an improved level of coaching they received at the collegiate level. Others went to major-league schools first but didn’t find the atmosphere to their liking, and some simply chose to play away from the brightest lights in order to be closer to home, to get playing time more quickly, to make a greater impact on a growing program, or to pursue an academic course they felt was better served at the college they selected.

Whatever the reason a player may have chosen to play in what have been denominated the "mid-majors," it is well worth remembering that remembered that  most ballers, male and female, do not play in the BCS conferences.

This year is a little different from others in that our Mid-Major Player Player of the Year, Elena Delle Donne, has become a household name for many; she was widely viewed as the top high school recruit in the country, signed with Connecticut, stayed for less than 48 hours, and then suffering a sense of basketball burnout, disappeared from the game for a year, taking up basketball, before returning to play for the Fighting Blue Hens of Delaware, in the Colonial Athletic Association. Today, Delle Donne is, alongside Griner, Diggins and Ogwumike, one of the top contenders for the Naismith, Wade and Wooden National Player of the Year awards.

But while in Delle Donne at least one mid-major player has emerged from the shadows to shine some light on the high quality of basketball that can be found outside the Super Six Conferences, many more mid-major players have turned in outstanding performances, week-in and week-out,  that are deserving of much more credit than most of them are ever likely to receive.

In an attempt to rectify that injustice at least a bit, FullCourt.com is pleased to present our 2012 Mid-Major All-American Team. 

Mid-Major Player of the Year

Elena Delle Donne Full Court 2012 Mid-Major Player of the Year:

Elena Delle Donne, 6-5, redshirt junior, guard/forward, Delaware

(Photo by Mark Campbell/Courtesy University of Delaware Athletics Media Relations)

Delle Donne took an atypical route to Delaware, where she majors in early childhood education.  As a high schooler with a center's height and guard-type ball-handling skills, she was named to the All-American lost of pretty much everyone who names such teams; as a senior, she was recognized as the  National Player of the Year. After a fierce recruiting battle, she signed with Connecticut, but decided after several days at Storrs that she wanted to be closer to her Delaware home. 

After a season on the volleyball team, Delle Donne joined the Blue Hen basketball team for the 2009 season and immediately became one of the top scorers in the nation. But despite Delle Donne's individual output, Delaware's stock did not rise immediately, as opponents found it too easy to double-team or isolate the Fighting Hens' lone star.

Over the past two years, coach Tina Martin has built a team around Delle Donne, who can play to her strengths and capitalize on at least some of the defensive attention she continues to draw.  Behind her, the Blue Hens have been ranked nationally this season for the first time in program history and drew an unprecedented three-seed in the NCAA tournament where they fell Tuesday in the second round, 64-70, to an inspired Kansas squad that snapped a 24-game Delaware winning streak despite a game-high 34 points from Delle Donne.

Delle Donne once again finds herself atop all the major watch lists, a finalist for the Naismith, Wooden and Wade National Player of the year awards. She has worked hard in the off-seasons to improve an already stellar game, last summer undertaking a rigorous strength and conditioning program that has made her even an even more effective and physical player, banging away in the low post when the occasion arises.

On another front last summer, she led the U.S. team, which included many of her rivals for the National Player of the Year awards -- Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, Glory Johnson, Odyssey Sims, Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel, Devereaux Peters and other collegiate stars -- to the gold medal in the 2011 World University Games.  She led the team with 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.

This season, Delle Donne leads the nation in scoring with a 28.8 point-per-game average.  She is also averaging a double-double with 10.4 rebounds a game, while shooting 53 percent from the field, 44 percent from beyond the arc and 90 percent from the free-throw line.  She already is the leading scorer in Delaware school history and will likely leave with all the team's -- and league's -- major scoring and rebounding records. 

Because she sat out a season, Delle Donne is eligible to leave school and declare for the WNBA draft, where she would be a top pick, but she has announced that she plans to return for her senior season.

Delle Donne has brought Delaware to the national stage and for that she is our Full Court  2012 Mid-Major Player of the Year.

Full Court 2012 Mid-Major All-American First Team

Joining Delle Donne on the Full Court  2012 All-American first team are the following exceptional players:

Kevi Luper, Oral Roberts

Shey Peddy, Temple

Niveen Rasheed, Princeton

Julie Wojta, Wisconsin-Green Bay

Kevi Luper, Oral Roberts Full Court Mid-Major All-American First Team:
Kevi Luper.  5-10,  junior, guard, Oral Roberts

(Photo by Shane Bevel/Courtesy ORU Athletic Media Relations)

Few players have dominated a conference like Kevi Luper has the Summit League. After suffering a series of injuries in high school, Luper was overlooked in much of the recruiting hoopla, but Oral Roberts University recognized her talent, decided to take the risk on her health improving in college and reached out to offer her a scholarship. The investment has more than paid off.

In her first three seasons in the league, Luper has been named Player of the Year three times and Defensive Player of the Year twice.  On February 4, 2012, she became the conference’s all-time leading scorer.  She currently has 2,260 career points and, with another full season to play, she has a chance to surpass the 3,000-point mark. 

Luper is more than just a scoring machine, however. As a sophomore she became the first woman in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in both points and steals.

In her first season, Luper was named to the Full Court Press All-Freshman team. After her sophomore year, she was selected by USA Basketball to represent her country at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico last fall.  She has been named an honorable mention All American by the Associated Press twice and was named to the Sporting News Preseason All-American Third Team this year.

Shey Peddy, Temple Full Court Mid-Major All-American First Team:
Shey Peddy, 5-7, senior, guard, Temple

(Photo by Mitchell Left

Peddy, who spent her first two years at Wright State before transferring to Temple, averaged 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.1 this season, but the burgeoning stat line doesn't begin to tell the story. For one thing, Peddy excels on both sides of the ball, earning her team's MVP and tying for its Top Defensive Player honors, and selected to both the Atlantic 10's first team and its All-Defensive Team. Last year, she set Temple's all-time record for steals (104) and this season she just missed repeating the feat with 102 steals, matching the number of her assists.

Peddy led Temple to a 23-10 record before a Syracuse squad that had just too much going on in the post closed the books on the Owls' season with an 82-68 defeat in the Sweet Sixteen of the WNIT on Thursday. Still, that was Temple's deepest postseason run since the 1980s.

Niveen Rasheed, Princeton Full Court Mid-Major All-American First Team:
Niveen Rasheed, 6-0, junior, forward, Princeton

(Photo by Beverly Schaefer)

Rasheed missed most of the 2010-11, playing in just 12 games before being sidelined by a knee injury. This year, she returned better than ever, leading the Tigers to their third-straight Ivy League title behind a team-high and Ivy League-high average of 16.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Perhaps surprisingly for a post player, Rasheed also led Princeton in assists (2.9 per game) and ties for the lead in steals (2.4 per game). What's more, the unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year selection seemed to save her best performances for the Tigers' toughest foes, registering a 23-point, 18-rebound double-double against the Big East's DePaul; posting 20 points against Delaware and its super-scorer Elena Delle Donne; and putting up 16 points and hauling down seven rebounds against Stanford's twin towers, Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike.

Princeton finished its season with a 24-5 overall record, going a perfect 14-0 in Ivy League play, earning a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they suffered a disappointing first-round exit after falling to eighth-seeded Kansas State by a single possession, 64-67.

Julie Wojta, Green Bay Full Court Mid-Major All-American First Team:
Julie Wojta, 6-0, senior, guard/forward, Wisconsin-Green Bay

(Photo Courtesy Green Bay Athletics)

Wojta, a Wade Trophy, Wooden award and Naismith finalist, is the latest in a long line of players who have keyed Green Bay's (31-2) rise to national prominence over the last several years, as the Phoenix spent the entire season ranked among the top 25 teams, rising as high as No. 9 in the national polls for the first time in program history, and just missed an NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen appearance by a whisker when they fell to second-seeded Kentucky, 62-65, in the final seconds of a hotly contested game on Monday. Wojta, who took home both Horizon League Player of the Year and the league's Defensive Player of the Year honors, led not only her team but the entire Horizon League in scoring (19.5 ppg), rebounding (9.9 rbg) and steals (3.8), and led the Phoenix with 3.5 assists per game.

Wojta, an indefatigable defender, set a school record early this season with 12 steals in the first half alone against Milwaukee, a game in which she also scored a game-high 27 points in just 25 minutes of play. Wojta will graduate as the program's single-season record holder in steals (127) and made field-goals (252)  and second in the record books in single-season scoring (644) and rebounds (328). She also owns the program's career record for double-doubles (35), while ranking among the top 10 in six career-statistical categories.

Full Court 2012 Mid-Major All-American Second Team

Courtney Hurt, Virginia Commonwealth

Tavelyn James, Eastern Michigan

Jessica Jenkins, St. Bonaventure

Justine Raterman, Dayton

Krista Santiago, Cal Poly

Courtney Hurt, Virginia Commonwealth Full Court Mid-Major All-American Second Team:
Courtney Hurt, 6-1, senior, forward, Virginia Commonwealth

(Photo by Scott K. Brown/VCU Athletics)

Hurt, an honorable mention Associated Press All American, led the nation last season in rebounding (12.4 per game), while ranking ninth in scoring (22 ppg) and fourth in double-doubles (18). This year, she upped the ante, setting a new school career-rebounding record when she grabbed her 1117th rebound in February 16 loss to William & Mary.  Playing alongside the talented Andrea Barbour, who is also worthy of mention in this list, Hurt led the Rams into the Sweet Sixteen of the WNIT this year while averaging 22.3 points and 13.1 rebounds a game.

Reigning WNIT champion Toledo ended VCU's season at 19-15 with an 81-64 shellacking in the Round of 16, despite a 26-point, 17-board (both game-highs) effort from Hurt, her 23rd double-double of the season. Hurt finishes her own career as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association's All-Conference first team and as the school's all-time leader in career scoring (1,974 points), rebounding (1,160), games played (126), made free-throws (480).

 

Tavelyn James, Eastern Michigan Full Court Mid-Major All-American Second Team:
Tavelyn James, 5-7, senior, guard, Eastern Michigan

(Photo by Tim Kelly)

James, the two-time Mid-American Conference Player of the Year has been a scoring machine since she stepped on the Eastern Michigan campus in the fall of 2008.  Her 2,417 points to date are the most in EMU history and make her the third-leading scorer in MAC history. Named to the All-MAC first team three times over the course of her career, James, a Division 5 nominee for the 2012 WBCA Division I Coaches All-American team, also recently added the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the nation’s top female player under 5-7, to her burgeoning trophy case. Her 24.7 points per game ranks second in the nation.

James led the Eagles to the MAC Tournament title and, with it, their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004, but 12-seeded EMU made an early departure, falling to fifth-seeded South Carolina, 48-80, last week in the opening round to finish their season at 23-9 overall (their third-straight 20-plus-win season), 13-3 in conference.

James was a member of Team USA at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October, 2011.  She started all four games and finished as the team’s second-leading scorer with 9.8 points a game.

Jessica Jenkins, St. Bonaventure Full Court Mid-Major All-American Second Team: Jessica Jenkins, 5-8, senior, guard, St. Bonaventure
(Photo by Craig Melvin/St. Bonaventure Athletics)

This sharpshooting senior and All-Atlantic 10 first-team selection is yet another mid-major Naismith award finalist (bear in mind, there are only 30 of them in the nation). Jenkins owns more made three-pointers (313 and counting) than any other active player  in Division I, placing No. 13 on the NCAA's all-time three-point list and No. 1 in the Atlantic 10's record books after breaking the previous record of 291 earlier this season.

And while Jenkins has dropped in an impressive 110 long-balls this season, she is far from a volume shooter, knocking them down at a 39.9-percent clip from beyond the arc this year. Until a rare miss this week in the NCAA Tournament, Jenkins has been all put perfect at the free-throw line, where she has knocked down 65 of her attempts this season. Her team-high 14.3 points per game has helped lead the Bonnies to a 31-3 overall record and a perfect 14-0 regular season in A-10 play this year, and they're not finished yet.

This season marks the Bonnies' debut appearance in the NCAA Tournament after three straight trips to the WNIT. On Tuesday, Jenkins poured in six treys and a total of 22 points to carry fifth-seeded St. Bonaventure past Marist, 66-63, and into the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, where they will have their work cut ought for them against top-seeded Notre Dame on Sunday. Whatever the outcome of that game, however, St. Bonaventure has earned its place in the NCAA Tournament record books, holding the distinction of being the smallest school (enrollment- 2,000) ever to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Justie Raterman, Dayton Full Court Mid-Major All-American Second Team:
Justine Raterman, 6-1, senior, forward, Dayton

(Photo courtesy Dayton Athletics Media Relations)

If sheer courage and character were enough to make this list of the mid-major elite, there's little question that Dayton's Justine Raterman would be high on it. Last season, Raterman suffered an ACL tear in the semifinal game of the conference tournament. Despite the injury, Raterman played 35 minutes in the following day's championship game, where Dayton fell to Xavier, 60-67 despite 19 points and six boards from the hobbled Flyers' star. Two weeks later, Raterman was back in action for 19 minutes, grabbing six rebounds to go with three points in Dayton's first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Penn State.

But Raterman brings more than guts alone to the table. After undergoing reconstructive surgery immediately after the NCAA Tournament, Raterman never missed a practice, returning in time to start every game this season in which she has led the Flyers in both scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rbg). She put the exclamation mark on her distinguished collegiate career in her final regular-season game, notching a season-high 32 points, to lead Dayton to a 20-6, 12-2 regular-season finish. Raterman then earned Most Outstanding Player honors in the conference tournament where she helped the Flyers surmount the powerful regular-season A-10 champs, St. Bonaventure, and take the A-10 Tournament title for the first time in program history.

Justine Raterman, Dayton, Celebration
Dayton's Justine Raterman (No. 34) celebrates with Flyers teammates after winning the 2012 Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament in which she was named the Most Outstanding Player. In 2011, Raterman played 35 minutes on a freshly torn ACL, putting up 19 points and pulling down six boards, but the Flyers came up short. (Photo by Mitchell Leff.)

Raterman and the Flyers made it back to the NCAA Tournament this year as the A-10's automatic bid, drawing a No. 11-seed. Early in the opening-round game, Dayton gave fifth-seeded Arkansas all it could handle, running out to a double-digit lead, but the Razorbacks rallied, holding the Flyers scoreless over the game's last 12 minutes to take the 72-55 victory, despite the contribution of Raterman, who posted 14 points and hauled down a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.

Kristina Santiago, Cal Poly Full Court Mid-Major All-American Second Team:
Kristina Santiago, 6-2, redshirt senior, forward, Cal Poly.

(Photo by Matt Brown Photography/Courtesy Cal Poly Media Relations)

Santiago is another player who successfully returned from a season-ending ACL injury. Santiago was the reigning 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year when after playing only the first game of what would have been her senior season, she went down with the knee injury and was forced to redshirt the remainder of the 2010-11 season. Back with a vengeance this year, Santiago earned Big West Player of the Year honors for the second time after leading the conference in scoring (23.1 ppg), rebounding (10.1 rbg), and field-goal percentage (55.8% ). Santiago ranks, respectively, seventh, twenty-second and tenth nationally in those categories.  She is also the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at Cal Poly and finishes her record-breaking career with 1,953 points and 850 rebounds.

Behind Santiago's leadership, Cal Poly finished its season 17-15 overall, and 12-4 in conference play, and received a bid to the WNIT, where the Mustangs fell to the PAC-12's Washington, 90-71, in the opening round, despite a game-high 28-point outing from from Santiago, who knocked down 12-of-27 (44.4%) from the field.

Full Court 2012 Mid-Major All-American Third Team

Shante Evans, Hofstra

Kristen Riley, Brigham Young

Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee

Kayla Standish, Gonzaga

Corielle Yarde, Marist

Shante Evans, Hofstra Full Court Mid-Major All-American Third Team:
Shante Evans, 6-0, junior, forward, Hofstra

(Photo courtesy Hofstra University)

Evans, who was named to the midseason watch lists for the 2012 Naismith and Wooden Award watch lists,  averaged 18.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. Though still a junior, she already ranks fifth all-time in Hofstra' s record books with 1,573 career points, and third on the school's all-time rebounding list with 966 career rebounds.

Evans became the first Hofstra basketball player -- male or female -- to represent the United States in international competition when she was selected by USA Basketball as a member of its 2011 Pan American Games team.

Kristen Riley, BYU Full Court Mid-Major All-American Third Team
Kristen Riley, 6-3, senior, forward, Brigham Young.

(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU)

Riley, who took Mountain West Conference player of the Year honors as a junior, has flourished since Brigham Young moved to the West Coast Conference, where the Cougars gave perennial champion Gonzaga all it could handle in the regular season and ultimately up-ended the Bulldogs in the WCC Tournament, taking the conference tournament title in their first year in the league to earn their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years.

Tenth-seeded BYU's NCAA Tournament run was short-lived, however, as the Cougars fell to No. 7-seed DePaul, in a hotly contested 55-59 loss in the opening round last week  The early exit was no fault of Riley's, however, as she finished her collegiate career with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, for her 15th career double-double, then iced the cake with a career-high seven assists.

Riley also leaves BYU as the 2012 West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors after leading her team to the conference tournament title and a season at 26-7 overall finish with a team-high 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee Full Court Mid-Major All-American Third Team:
Ebony Rowe, 6-1, sophomore, forward, Middle Tennessee

(Photo by Bradley Lambert/MT Athletic Communications)

Blue Raiders coach Rick Insell has an eye for top talent, and he's done it again with Ebony Rowe. Expect to hear a lot more about this prolific sophomore, who compiled 13 double-doubles this season and led the Sun Belt in field-goal percentage with a jaw-dropping 54.5-percent average from the field. Rowe also led the league, as well as her team, in rebounding (10.1 rbg) and steals (2.4 per game), while ranking second to her teammate Kortni Jones (16.8 ppg) in scoring with 16.3 points per game for a double-double average.

Earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament despite falling by one point (70-71) in overtime in the conference tournament to UALR , Middle Tennessee was ousted in the first round of NCAA play, 60-46, by hosting Vanderbilt, whom the Raiders had fought to a 28-28 draw at the half. Rowe contributed a 10-point, 16-rebound double-double to the Raiders' losing cause. MTSU finished its season at 26-7 overall and a perfect 16-0 in Sun Belt regular-season play.

Kayla Standish, Gonzaga Full Court Mid-Major All-American Third Team:
Kayla Standish, 6-2, senior, forward, Gonzaga

(Photo by Torrey Vail/GU Athletics)

Standish returned from a junior season that saw her take All-West Coast Conference and West Coast Conference All-Tournament Team honors, and distinguish herself as the first player in Gonzaga history to put together two back-to-back 30-plus-point games, to lead the 'Zags to a 28-5, 14-2 record, and a third-straight run to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen. Together with classmate Katelan Redmon (see below) Standish, who averages a team-high 16.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and again took home All-Conference Team honors this season, has created a dominant front court that helped Gonzaga maintain its standing at the top of a league that has become more competitive than ever.  And the 'Zags' run continues as they meet No. 2-seeded Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen of the Kingston Regional on Sunday for the right to play on to the Elite Eight.

Corielle Yarde, Marist Full Court Mid-Major All-American Third Team:
Corielle Yarde, 5-8, senior, Marist

(Photo Courtesy Marist Sports Information)

Yarde, the Red Foxes' do-it-all senior co-captain, took All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honors as a junior, after leading the team in rebounding (5.6 rbg) and contributing a team second-best 11.8 points per game. Like several of the others who made our list, Yarde rises to the occasion, as for example, in her 25-point, 12-rebound performance against in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

This season, Yarde stepped it up another notch, taking 2012 MAAC Player of the Year honors after leading Marist in both scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rbg), while handing out a team-high 4.2 assists per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.8:1. She shoots an efficient 41.8 percent from the field, and a solid 33.9 percent from the arc, and also averages a swat in every game.

Marist marched to its seventh-straight MAAC Tournament title, where Yarde was named the tournament's MVP. Her 21-point explosion in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament spurred Marist, the MAAC's automatic qualifier and a lowly No. 13-seed, to a 76-70 opening-round upset of fourth-seeded Georgia. Fellow mid-major St. Bonaventure, seeded at No. 5, halted the Red Foxes' drive to a second Sweet Sixteen appearance, hammering out a narrow, 63-60 victory, after finding a way in the second half to shut down Yarde, holding her to just two points in the second stanza after she had posted  a team-high 11 points in the opening frame. Still, behind Yarde's senior leadership, Marist finished its season at 26-8, its sixth straight season with 25 wins or better. Meanwhile, Yarde graduates as the first-ever Marist player to finish her career in the school's all-time top-ten in points (1,470, fourth), rebounds (689, seventh), and assists (321, seventh), as well as seven other statistical categories.

Full Court 2012 Mid-Major All Americans -- Honorable Mention

Jerica Coley, 5-8, sophomore, guard, Florida International.  Coley, who notched double figures in 33 of Florida International's 34 games this season, averaged 23.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals a game on her way to being named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Despite a game-high 30-point explosion from Coley, who also pulled down a game-high 14 boards, handed out five dishes, grabbed two steals, and even swatted down four blocks, FIU fell to hosting South Florida, 61-77, in the second round of the WNIT, to finish its season at 23-11, the highest number of wins in the last 11 years.

Rachel Hackbarth, 6-3, senior, forward, Drake. Hackbarth, the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, led the conference in both scoring (19.3 ppg) and rebounding  (11.8 rpg -- fifth best in NCAA Division I), while racking up 15 consecutive double-doubles.

Sarah Hansen, 5-10, redshirt sophomore, Florida Gulf Coast. Another young player with tremendous potential, Hansen, a unanimous choice for the All-Atlantic Sun first team, averaged a team-best 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season. Hansen, a chemistry major, also excels in the classroom, earning the conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors after maintaining a 3.95 grade-point average.

The talented sophomore, who shoots an impressive 52.4 percent from the field, led the Eagles to conference regular-season and tournament titles and an NCAA Tournament appearance in the school's first year of Division I eligibility. Though the 12th-seeded Eagles ultimately lost to No. 5-seed St. Bonaventure, 65-72, in a come-from-behind overtime thriller in the tournament's first round, with talent like Hansen's, this won't be the last we'll be seeing of the Eagles, who finish their season at 29-3 (a program record for wins), and a perfect 18-0 run through the Atlantic Sun regular season.

Amber Hegge, 6-1, senior, forward, South Dakota. Hegge, a two-time Great West All-Conference first-team selection, reprised the feat this season after the school's move to the Summit League. Hegge earned first-team All-Summit League honors after leading the Coyotes with a robust 19.2 points a game, and  league's top five in scoring (19.0 ppg, second); rebounding (8.5 rbg, first); field-goal percentage (52.1%, first) assists (3.6 apg, fifth) with a healthy assist-to-turnover ratio (especially for a post player) of 1.1:1 (sixth in the league; and blocked shots (2.0 bpg, fifth). Hegge, who also swiped 1.4 steals per game, is the only player in the league to rank in the top five in all of those categories.

Hegge led the Coyotes to a 23-8 finish -- the program's best since moving to Division I -- and an appearance in the WNIT, where they fell, 55-64, to PAC-12 foe Colorado in the second round, despite a 20-point, seven-rebound, three-assist and three-steal performance by Hegge in her final collegiate game. Hegge finishes her career as one of just 11 players in school history to log more than 1,000 career points (1,695, second all-time in school history) and 500 career rebounds  (819, fifth all-time in the school record books). She also ranks second in school history in blocks (167) and ninth in career assists (305).

Jericka Jenkins, 5-4, senior, guard, Hampton - A regular on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference post-season award lists, as a junior, the tiny guard became the first Lady Pirate to be recognized by the Associated Press when she was selected as an honorable mention AP All American. This year, Jenkins led Hampton in scoring (13.8 ppg) and ranked fifth in NCAA Division I in assists (7.1 apg), with an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.4:1, earning her 2012 All-MEAC first-team honors.

Jenkins spearheaded the Lady Pirates' drive to their third-straight MEAC Tournament title. That brought them an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, where Hampton, a No. 16-seed, had the misfortune of meeting Stanford in the opening round, ending the season with a 51-73 loss, but a 26-5, 15-1 record.

Jessica Kuster, 6-2, sophomore, forward, Rice.  Sophomore forward followed up a dazzling freshman season with an even better sophomore campaign, averaging 17.1 points and 10.8 rebounds to earn both All-Conference USA first team honors and selection to the league's All Defensive team for the second year in a row. Kuster ranked second in the conference in scoring with 171 points per game, and led the league in rebounding with 10.8 boards per game, a figure that places her at No. 11 in NCAA Division I. (Kuster notched a career-rebounding high this season with 21 boards against Texas-San Antonio.)

Jasmine Newsome, 5-7, sophomore, guard, Tennessee-Martin.  Though only a sophomore, Newsome earned Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year honors after averaging 19.7 points and a league-high 5.9 assists. Newsome is the second-fastest player in program school history to breach the 1,000-career-point mark. Second to whom? If you guessed Pat Head Summit, you'd be close but wrong. Newsome surpassed the Skyhawks' most famous alum when she broke the 1,000-point barrier in her 55th game; she is second only  to her teammate Heather Butler.

Speaking of Pat Summitt, Newsome, along with Martin's top scorer Heather Butler (the nation's third leading scorer, helped lead the Skyhawks to the OVC Tournament title and a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, where they drew a No. 15-seed and an opening-round date with Summitt's second-seeded Lady Vols. Summitt shed no mercy on her alma mater, as Tennessee mauled Martin, 72-49, to close out the Skyhawks' season at 23-8.

Dequesha McClanahan, 5-8, sophomore, guard, Winthrop. The 2010-11 Big South Freshman of the Year certainly didn't fall victim to the proverbial sophomore slump, leading the league in both scoring (20.8 ppg) and assists (7.3 apg) in the 2011-12 season, and iced the cake with 4.7 rebounds per game to take the Big South's Player of the Year award this season. It was the first time in school history that a Winthrop player earned the league's top honor.

Katelan Redmon, 6-1, redshirt senior, guard/forward, Gonzaga. After playing her freshman year at the PAC-12's University of Washington, Redmon transferred to Gonzaga, sitting out her sophomore year to reestablish eligibility. Since then she has become an essential cog in the 'Zags' winning matrix, starting out with an 11.1-point, 4.1-rebound average in 2009-10 that saw her earn West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year honors, and upped her production as a junior to finish with All-West Coast Conference honors.

This year, the two-time All-WCC forward averaged 13.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game to once again join teammate Kayla Standish on the All-WCC team. And her season isn't over yet as the Bulldogs prepare to face Kentucky on Sunday in the 'Zags' third-straight NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.

Brianne Ryan, 5-10, senior, guard/forward, Eastern Washington. Ryan earned Big Sky Most Valuable Player honors, becoming just the second Eastern Washington player in conference history to earn the award, after averaging 19.3 points, to put her in the top 25 in the nation, and registering four 30-plus-point games this senior. A unanimous pick for the Big Sky's All-Conference First Team and a former Big Sky co-Defensive Player of the Year (2009-10), Ryan also ranked second on the Eagles in rebounding (5.4 rbg), steals (2.0 spg) and assists (1.7 apg). Ryan, an accounting major, also excelled in the classroom, winning Big Sky Scholar-Athlete honors this month.

Alexis Rogers, 6-1, redshirt sophomore, forward, Bowling Green. After spending her sophomore year at Duke, where she averaged only 5.8 minutes per game and made a proportionately small contribution, Rogers transferred to Bowling Green, sitting out the 2010-12 season to restore her eligibility. This season, Rogers made an immediate impact for the Falcons, averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds per game; she also tied for the team lead in steals at 1.8 per game. Her contributions helped the Falcons overcome heavy graduation losses and finish atop the Mid-American Conference regular-season standings yet again. Rogers was named to the All-MAC first team and is a finalist for the WBCA Division I Coaches' All-American team.

Jennie Sunnarborg, 6-2, senior, forward, South Dakota State. Sunnarborg assumed the leadership mantle for the Jackrabbits this year, pacing them to another NCAA Tournament appearance with team-high averages of 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. A versatile player, Sunnarborg shoots 43.9 percent from the floor but is also comfortable stepping out to the perimeter to knock down a three (38.9-percent three-point field-goal shooting). Sunnarborg moved up from the all-conference second team to  take All-Summit League first-team honors as a senior; she was also named the conference tournament MVP after helping lead the Jacks to take the tournament, as well as the regular-season, title with 12-points and nine boards in a 78-77 overtime thriller over UMKC. The 13-seeded Jackrabbits fell to the hosting fourth-seed, Purdue, 68-83, in the opening round to finish their season at 24-9.
 


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