Lili Thompson is player of the week

Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.

In this new age of Stanford women's basketball, Lili Thompson has quickly emerged as the Cardinal's new star.

Poised, fearless and aggressive, the sophomore guard is the first espnW national player of the week for the 2014-15 season after a pair of defining performances against two of the nation's top teams.

Stanford played the week's toughest set of games -- Monday's matchup against No. 1 Connecticut and a Thursday meeting with No. 10 Texas -- and ended up with a split.

But it was not the split that anyone would have imagined. The Cardinal, playing back-to-back overtime games for the first time in program history, upset the top-ranked Huskies 88-86 on Monday. And by Tuesday morning they were No. 1 in the coaches' poll.

But on Thursday, drained from the effort against the Huskies, Stanford went into extra time against the motivated Longhorns and fell 87-81.

Thompson gave Stanford the best two games of her young career. She put up 24 points against the Huskies and followed with a 28-point effort against Texas.

Thompson is the first Cardinal guard since Candice Wiggins' senior season in 2008 to have back-to-back 20-point games. Over Stanford's first three games, Thompson is averaging 26.0 points, the leading scorer in each game.

Thompson is an emerging standout on the first Stanford team in a decade not to return an AP All-American to its roster. She has a complete game on both ends, a confident 3-point shot (7-of-16 thus far) and an utter absence of hesitation to go to the rim or get to the line. She's shooting 53.4 percent from the field so far and leads the Cardinal with 28 trips to the free throw line.

That fearlessness earned her a starting spot as a freshman last season (she averaged 8.3 PPG in 36 games) and it has made her the centerpiece of Stanford's remodeled, guard-oriented offense so far.

"She likes big games, she likes taking big shots and she's a fearless player," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said of Thompson, who was idle for most of the offseason after having shoulder surgery following the Final Four.

VanDerveer said Thompson began practicing again just as the Cardinal started practice.

"Considering that, she's doing really, really well," VanDerveer said. "She has a lot of confidence, she competes and she's been very coachable. She listens, she's an intelligent player, she recognizes what opportunities are available for her and she takes advantage of it."

Thompson, the youngest of six children (all of whom either have or are working on graduate degrees) was under-recruited out of Timberview High School (Mansfield, Texas). A child in a military family, Thompson was off the radar because of the move her family made from Hawaii to Texas upon her parents' retirement from the Army in the middle of Thompson's high school career.

But she has been a gem of a find for VanDerveer, the kind of all-out competitor the Hall of Fame coach can build a young team around.

Thompson's bio on the team website says she wants to be president of the United States. For now, maybe she will have to settle for being one of the breakout players in the country this season.

Also nominated: Nneka Enemkpali, Texas.