Delle Donne Deal

By Jeff Lippman - August 28, 2007


By way of divine revelation, top recruit Elena Delle Donne has decided where she will play her college basketball.

If you were the best basketball player in the country, and you had a choice of school between Tennessee and Connecticut, which would you choose?

Well, if you are named Delle Donne from Delaware, you are going north to UConn.

In a decision described as an epiphany, Delle Donne has said, "All of a sudden, I just said, 'I'm going to UConn.'"

Last season, the Huskies had Big East Freshman of the Year in Tina Charles. This year, everyone expects UConn's Maya Moore to take home the rookie award. And now, as a bonus for Husky fans, they pretty much guaranteed a three-peat.

Imagine this starting lineup in 2008:
G: Renee Montgomery, Sr.
G: Maya Moore, So.
F: Kalana Greene, Sr.
F: Elena Delle Donne, Fr.
C: Tina Charles, Jr.
Bench: Lorin Dixon, So.

With a lineup that is rich in both talent and experience, if the 2008 version of the Huskies don't win a national championship, Geno Auriemma will not be happy.

Of course, given that no woman will have ever entered the WNBA Draft as an underclassmen, 2008 will also be Candace Parker's senior season.

And don't think that just because the Lady Vols and Pat Summitt missed out on Delle Donne that they haven't already received some letters of intent from some major recruits.

In fact, HoopGurlz.com says that Tennessee, which already boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for 2007, may have an even better class coming in '08. The Lady Vols have reportedly sweet talked No. 4 recruit Amber Gray, No. 8 Shekinna Stricklen, No. 15 Alicia Manning and No. 20 Alyssia Brewer into calling Knoxville their 4-year college home.

So there you have it, we haven't even started the 2007 season - one in which UConn and Tennessee look like favorites to win it all - and already the 2008 season looks like a two-team race.

It's just a shame that UConn and Tennessee have stopped their annual rivalry game because the nation, and women's college basketball, deserves to see its best two teams play every year. Especially when those two teams are only distancing themselves by continually having recruiting wars over the countries' top talent.

Of course, as we all know, the super highway to the national championship runs through Knoxville, Tenn., but you can certainly avoid the traffic and take the backroads through Storrs, Ct.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 05:16 PM on August 28, 2007
Comments (3)

Comments

It seems Delle Donne wants to be near her family. with transportation being so easy she could have been as close if she was at Tenn.
Geno's charm got a couple of #1s but the Lady Vols won with team work. Anosike, Bobbit and Horbuckle and the rest showed that melding a group of players together is what wins games. Pat is the best at that. I look forward to the LacyVols winning two more National Titles in another threepeat.

Nov. 17, 2006

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer Basketball Coach Pat Summitt confirmed that she had received all final paperwork from signees Vicki Baugh, Angie Bjorklund, Kelley Cain, and Sydney Smallbone.



Pat Summitt

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SUMMITT RECEIVES NYAC'S WINGED FOOT AWARD
LADY VOL COACH PAT SUMMITT TO RECEIVE NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB'S WINGED FOOT AWARD

ANOSIKE AND HORNBUCKLE NAMED AS FINALISTS FOR 2007 USA BASKETBALL WOMEN'S PAN AM GAMES TEAM


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The NCAA early signing period began on Wed., Nov. 8 and all four players signed that day and faxed their signed letters-of-intent to Tennessee. "We are very excited to have signed this outstanding class of student-athletes to come to the University of Tennessee," said Summitt. "Individually and collectively, they are regarded as some of the top prospects in the nation. All four players will be an excellent fit and complement the players on our roster.

"Our coaching staff and team are thrilled that these talented young women will be wearing Tennessee Orange and White next season," said Summitt. A number of pollsters who rate signing classes have given Tennessee the nod for the nation's best recruiting class. Ironically, all four players took their official visits to Tennessee on the same weekend. Talented shooters Bjorklund, a 6-0 guard from Spokane Valley, Wash. (University H.S.), and Smallbone, a 5-9 guard from Granger, Ind. (St. Joseph's H.S.) had committed as juniors. Baugh, a 6-4 forward from Sacramento, Calif. (Sacramento H.S.), and Cain, a 6-6 center from Atlanta, Ga. (St. Pius X H.S.) were sought-after as key frontline players to bolster the Lady Vol attack.

"As a coaching staff, we talked about the fact that this would be the best recruiting class in the country. Certainly one of the reasons that we felt like we wanted to sign (four) in this class was the quality of the players that were in it," said Summitt. "There were times when I was a little concerned because we only brought six people to campus and obviously we signed four. It just worked out." The Lady Vols lose three seniors after the 2006-07 season, starting forward Sidney Spencer and reserves Dominique Redding and Elizabeth Curry. The incoming class of four signees will shore up most all of the needs on the coaches' wish list. "We identified our needs in the class," Summitt said. "We felt like if we could get two guards and two frontline players that we could obviously put together a very successful recruiting endeavor, and we did. Each of these players are great, skilled athletes who are capable of playing multiple positions. I love the versatility in each of their games and their hunger to become the very best," Summitt concluded.



VICTORIA BAUGH, F, 6-4, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, SACRAMENTO, H.S.

Second Team, Preseason All-American Team, HoopGurlz.com, 2006. ... First Team, All-Junior, USA Today, 2006. ... First Team, All-State, 2006. ... Metro Player of the Year, 2006. ... MVP, West Coast Jamboree, 2006. ... All-State Sophomore Team, 2005. ... All Metro First Team, 2005. ... Cal-Hi Sports Div. III All-State Team, 2005. ... Street & Smith All-America HM, 2005. ... USA Today Sophomore All-America, End of the Oregon Trail All-Tournament Team, 2005. ... All-League, Sierra League, 2004... Named to the 2006 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team on June 19, 2006...Member of the 2006 U18 National Team that went 4-0 to win the gold and qualify for the 2007 U19 World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia...Averaged 11.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg and shot 60.6 percent from the field for the 2006 U18 gold medal team in four games, starting three...The 11.8 ppg she averaged ranked second on the team and seventh overall for the tournament...The 8.0 rpg she averaged was third on the team, seventh overall for the tournament, and the fifth best mark ever for an American in this event...Her 60.6 percent FG percentage was the best mark overall for the tournament...Her 1.5 bpg was third on the team, and tied for fourth overall for the tournament...Has tallied 1,343 points, 856 rebounds, 167 assists, 146 steals and 200 blocked shots in three seasons of varsity basketball...Led her team to a Northern State Championship and averaged 19.7 ppg., 11.5 rpg., 2.0 spg and 2.0 bpg. as a junior in 2005-06...As a sophomore in 2004-05, averaged 16.5 ppg., 11.7 rpg. and 3.0 apg. to help her team finish 23-7...Played varsity as a freshman in 2003-04 at Cordova High School (Calif.) and averaged 18.1 ppg and 17.0 rpg...An honor-roll student at Sacramento High School, she maintains a perfect attendance record. Softball is her favorite sport other than basketball.


SUMMITT ON BAUGH:

"Vicki is a player I watched all summer, just like the others," Summitt said. "She can play multiple positions. The one thing about Vicki is that she just works so hard. A lot of times when you have a player of her caliber, they take a lot of possessions off. Just watching her play this summer and watching her again this fall when we were out there, she directs the team, and she's the hardest worker on the team."


ANGIE BJORKLUND, G, 6-0, SPOKANE VALLEY, WASHINGTON, UNIVERSITY H.S.

She has been heralded as one of the best and most fundamentally sound players in the country...2006 USA Today All-American...EA Sports All-American...2006 Parade All-America, second team...HoopGurlz.com 2006 First Team Preseason All-American Team... No. 1 ranked player, 2006 HoopGurlz.com... First team, Washington State 4A all-tournament, 2006. ... Finished third in scoring (19.0), fifth in free throws (92.9%) and assists (3.5), sixth in three-point shooting (57.9), 10th in rebounding (8.5) at Washington State 4A tournament, 2006...MVP, Greater Spokane League, 2006... In seven games at Nike Nationals (2005) averaged 22.1 ppg, 54.7FG%, 64.7 3FG%, 6rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.3 spg, to lead the Stars to a 6-2 record ... End of the Oregon Trail Co-MVP, 2005. ... Nike Skills Academy, 2005... HoopGurlz.com/Full Court Press Class of 2007 All-America Team, 2005...GSL MVP as sophomore, 2005... First Team, Street & Smith All-American Team, 2006...Third Team, Street & Smith All-American Team, 2005... Oregon City End of the Trail All-Tournament, 2004... Scored team-high 22 points for Spokane Stars against Colorado in championship game at Oregon City... Second team All-Greater Spokane League as freshman. ... Averaged 11.5 points for University as freshman....Has played with the Spokane Stars AAU team since the third grade...Sister Jami plays hoops at Gonzaga...Calls Tennessee her "dream school"...Has aspirations of making the U.S. Olympic Team in basketball...Would like to play in the WNBA and eventually become a college coach...Enjoys guitar, hiking and water sports.


SUMMITT ON BJORKLUND:

"I think the first time I was aware of Angie, she was in the seventh or eighth grade," said Summitt. "There're a lot of dimensions to her game as well. She's really skilled and shoots the three ball well. She can put it on the floor. She's a good athlete and at (her size) she can play all three guard spots for us. Has tremendous balance in her game. "


KELLEY CAIN, C, 6-6, ATLANTA, GA., ST. PIUS X H.S.

Third Team, Preseason All-American Team, HoopGurlz.com, 2006. ... Atlanta Journal-Constitution AAAA All-State First Team, 2005. ... 4Shot Hoops All-State First Team, 2005. ... Street & Smith All-America HM, 2005. ... End of the Oregon Trail All-Tournament Team, 2005. ... AAAA All-State First Team, 2005 & 2004. ... All-Area First Team, 2005 & 2004. ... All Game Sports All-America Camp Underclass All-Star, 2004... Named to the 2006 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team on June 19, 2006...Member of the 2006 U18 National Team that went 4-0 to win the gold and qualify for the 2007 U19 World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia...Averaged 6.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg and shot 57.9 percent from the field for the 2006 U18 gold medal team in four games, starting one...The 6.5 rpg she averaged was fifth on the team, and tied for 15th overall for the tournament...Her 1.8 bpg was tied for the best on the team, and tied for the best mark overall for the tournament. It also tied for the third best mark ever for an American at this event...Her 57.9 percent FG percentage was second best on the team, and second best overall for the tournament...Selected as a Street & Smith's All-America honorable mention in 2005...Named the Georgia Athletics Coaches Association 4A Player-of-the-Year in 2006...Honored as the Georgia Sports Writers Association 4A Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006 and all-state first team in 2005 and 2006...Selected as the Atlanta Journal Constitution 4A Player of the Year in 2006 and all-state and all-county first team in 2004, 2005 and 2006...Named School Sports Greater Atlanta Top Girls Hoop Player first team in 2005 and 2006...Selected as the St. Pius X Christmas Classic MVP in 2005 and 2006 and to the all-tournament team in 2004...Named to the Peach State Hoops and 4Shot Hoops All-State teams in 2005...Honored as the DeKalb County Athlete of the Week in 2004 and 2005...Has tallied 1,528 points, 1,005 rebounds, 140 assists, 162 steals and 512 blocked shots in three seasons at St. Pius X High School (Ga.)...Recorded career highs of 24 rebounds (vs. Marist) and 11 blocks (vs. Jones County) in 2006 and 32 points (vs. Tampa Catholic), four assists (vs. Tucker) and four steals (vs. Wesleyan) in 2005...Helped St. Pius X earn Atlanta Tip Off Club Metro Team of the Year in 2005 and 2006...Captured her second 4A state championship as a junior in 2005-06 and averaged 20.1 ppg., 13.2 rpg.,1.5 apg., 2.2 spg and 6.0 bpg. to finish 31-2...As a sophomore in 2004-05, averaged 16.8 ppg., 10.0 rpg., 1.5 apg., 1.5 spg and 6.0 bpg. while leading her team to 28-4 and a fifth-in-state finish...As a freshman in 2003-04, helped her team finish 30-2 to capture the state championship after averaging 14.4 ppg., 9.3 rpg., 1.5 apg., 1.5 spg and 5.0 bpg...Daughter of Harold and Lynda Ward Cain, has twin brothers, Douglas and James...Is on the honor roll at St. Pius X...Was Miss Junior Homecoming in 2006 and Miss Sophomore Homecoming in 2005...Her father played football at Clemson University (S.C.)...She would like to be a sports agent or a sports statistician.


SUMMITT ON CAIN

"What I saw from her - her last two years in particular - she's just gotten better and better," Summitt said. "It gives us a great presence in the paint. That's (size) something you can't teach. Certainly she's become very skilled. She plays with a great high school team, St. Pius, and also with the (Georgia) Metros. She's playing a lot of basketball, not only during the season, but during the summer. She gets up and down the floor."


SYDNEY SMALLBONE, G, 5-9, GRANGER, INDIANA, ST. JOSEPH'S H.S.

adidas Top Ten All-Star, 2006. ...First Team, Northern Indiana Conference, 2006. ... First Team, All-State, Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association, 2006. ... Second Team, All-State, Courier-Journal, 2006. ... First Team, All-Metro, South Bend Tribune, 2006. ... Street and Smith Honorable Mention, 2004 and 2005. ... Second Team, Northern Indiana Conference, 2005. ... Honorable Mention, All-State, Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association, 2005. ... First Team, All-Metro, South Bend Tribune, 2005. ... Second Team, All-Conference, Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association, 2004...Named as an alternate to the 2006 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team on June 19, 2006 ...Verbally committed to attend the University of Tennessee as a junior...Named to the Courier-Journal All-State second team in 2006...Tabbed as an Associated Press All-State honorable mention in 2005 and 2006...Honored as a South Bend Tribune All-Metro selection in 2005 and 2006...A Northern Indiana Conference first team selection in 2006 and second team in 2005...Selected to the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association All-State first team in 2006, all-state honorable mention in 2005 and all-conference second team in 2004...Has tallied 1,126 points, 281 rebounds, 203 assists and 98 steals and started in all 76 games played in three seasons at St. Joseph's...Has recorded career highs of 31 points (vs. Hammond),10 rebounds and eight assists...As a junior in 2005-06, averaged 18.9 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 3.4 apg. and 1.6 spg while leading a 22-3 St. Joseph's squad to the state semifinals...Led her team to a state championship and averaged 13.0 ppg., 4.2 rpg. and 2.2 apg. as a sophomore in 2004-05...Appeared in the 2003-04 state semifinals as a freshman and averaged 13.0 ppg., 3.5 rpg. and 2.5 apg....Daughter of Brian and Maria Smallbone, has one brother, Matt, and one sister, Shelby...Hails from an athletic family. Her father and two uncles, Marty and Steven Smallbone, played football at Central Michigan University, and her father also played basketball during his senior year. Her uncle, Jeffrey Nate, played professional baseball for the Phillies and A's and played two years of football at the University of Michigan; and her cousin, Jenna Stuppy, plays softball at Western Michigan University...Maintains a 3.46 GPA as an honor student at St. Joseph's...Received the St. Joseph's High School Athletic Physical Education Award in 2005...Would like to continue her education and possibly become a college coach.


SUMMITT ON SMALLBONE:

"Sydney is just an incredibly dedicated player," Summitt said. "Her work ethic is tremendous. I think all of these players coming in have great work ethic. They love the game. Sydney's specialty is her three-point shooting, but she's really worked hard on her mid-range game. She's got a lot of grit about her."

If Tennessee and Pat Summitt have such a great recruiting group coming in, then why did Pat pull the plug on the UConn/Tennessee series...she
orchestrated this move BEFORE Elena Delle Donne made the oral commitment to UConn. She has made a very one-sided selfish decision, which certainly affects college women's basketball. This appears to be "sour grapes" on Ms. Summitt's part because the last three no. 1 rated players for the past 3 years have chosen to go to UConn,and why? Her team won the national championship this past April??? She has single-handedly ended one of the best rivalries in college basketball history. This hurts women's basketball at a time when it was truly becoming mainstream in all sports. The players, students and fans will suffer from this unnecessary ending. It makes Summitt look very bad. I may not be a UT fan, but I have respected Pat's accomplishments and her influence on women's basketball, but this is a major mistake on her part and she appears as no more than a child who has lost something and decides to take all her marbles and go home. How very foolish and self-centered of her. As I see it, she has tarnished her reputation a bit and many fans will remember this
for years to come.
The National Championship may very well come down to a UConn/UT final, but there are more than a handful of challengers for the coveted 2008 Championship banner.

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