WNBA Biography: Diana Taurasi

Diana Taurasi is – or at least, the WNBA wants her to be – to the WNBA, what Dwayne Wade is to his male counterpart’s professional league. Having said that, I fully believe, that with a little more talent surrounding her, Taurasi will become just that – a WNBA champion – although she is already arguably the best player in her sport.

Taurasi has been so good for so long that she was a star way before she ever set foot on the campus of the University of Connecticut. Taurasi attended Don Lugo High School (Calif.), where she was the recipient of the 2000 Cheryl Miller Award, given to the best player in Southern California. Her high school accolades didn’t stop there as she was named the 2000 Naismith and Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year. She capped her prep career ranked second to Miller in state history with 3,047 points.

After her successful high school career, Taurasi went to UConn for the 200-2001 season and promptly helped lead the Lady Huskies to three consecutive NCAA championships, the last one coming in the 2003-2004 season.

Taurasi also won the 2003 & 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year awards, the 2003 Wade Trophy and 2003 Associated Press Player of the Year award and averaged 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in her collegiate career.
All-told, in her collegiate career Taurasi helped the Huskies to a 139-8 (.946) overall record, including an equally impressive 22-1 (.957) mark in NCAA tournament play and capped her career ranked third all-time among UConn career leaders in points (2,156), first in 3-pointers made (318) and assists (648) and sixth in blocked shots (144).

After leaving UConn, Taurasi was selected first overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury, a team that had earned the first selection of the draft with a horrific 8-26 record in 2003.

Taurasi came into the league doing what she does best – scoring at will. She dropped 26 points on the Seattle Storm and and led the Mercury to an 84-76 victory in her WNBA debut. For the season, the likeable rookie averaged 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Although the Mercury did not qualify for the playoffs, the season was a personal success as Taurasi was named to the Western Conference All Star team and won the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award in a landslide.

In 2005, Taurasi averaged 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while battling an ankle injury. She was an WNBA All Star for a second straight year, but the Mercury faded down the stretch and again missed the playoffs once again.
Taurasi was also the youngest player on the 2004 U.S. National Women’s Senior Team and joined them less than 48 hours after winning her third NCAA title. Her most important points in the Olympic tournament came against Australia in the gold medal game where she hit 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and finished with eight points – as the U.S. claimed the gold medal.

This season, Taurasi has been setting the WNBA on fire averaging a career high, 24.1 points per game. Her career scoring WNBA scoring average is 17.6 points per game and at the rate Taurasi is going, she’ll probably end up as her league’s all-time leading scorer at some point and one of the best female basketball players of all-time.

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