Of the 15 women finalists for this year’s John R. Wooden Award, a majority are former Gatorade Player of the Year honorees --nine in all.
Nominees include three former Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year winners in Notre Dame junior guard Skylar Diggins of Washington (South Bend, Ind.), Stanford senior forward Nneka Ogwumike of Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas) and Stanford sophomore forward Chiney Ogwumike of Cy-Fair.
Five 2012 Wooden finalists were twice recognized as State Player of the Year during their high school career: Delaware junior wing Elena Delle Donne of Ursuline Academy (Wilmington, Del./2005-06, 2007-08) and Tennessee senior wing Shekinna Stricklen of Morrilton (Morrilton, Ark./2005-06, 2007-08) along with Diggins (2007-09), the elder Ogwumike sister (2006-08) and the only freshman among this year’s finalists, Duke center Elizabeth Williams of Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va./2009-11).
Other POY alumni contending for college basketball’s ultimate honor this year include Baylor junior center Brittney Griner of Nimitz (Texas/2008-09), Ohio State senior guard Samantha Prahalis of Commack (Commack, N.Y./2007-08) and Kentucky junior guard A’dia Mathies of Iroquois (Louisville, Ky.).
Last month, Delle Donne, who owns a 3.6 GPA, was named the NCAA Academic All-America of the Year.