Taurasi Wins USA Basketball Award

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 9, 2013)
A three-time Olympic gold medalist who helped lead the USA women to a fifth-straight Olympic gold medal as well as an undefeated exhibition schedule in 2012, Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) today was named the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

“Twelve years ago I wore my first USA jersey, and the feeling of honor and excitement never diminishes,” said Taurasi, who also earned USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year award in 2010 and 2006. “I had the opportunity to learn from the best, play with the best and be coached by the best. This honor is very special because it is in recognition of everyone who has played for our county.”

Taurasi, who was named a tri-captain of the U.S. Olympic squad, started in all eight Olympic wins and averaged a team-high 12.4 points per game to go with 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest in the 2012 London Olympics. She also shot 45.5 percent from the field and team-bests of 42.9 percent from 3-point and 96.0 percent from the free throw line.

“I think Diana was absolutely spectacular as a leader on and off the court,” said Geno Auriemma, head coach of the 2009-12 USA Women’s National Team and a co-recipient of the 2012 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year Award. “I’m constantly amazed by her will to win, her drive and how much she makes everyone around her better. It was a great experience for me to get to coach her again. I enjoyed every minute of it. Winning the gold medal, and her playing such a big part in it, put a real exclamation point on the whole summer.”

Taurasi also averaged 10.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game to help the USA Women’s National Team to a 5-0 exhibition mark with friendly wins over China, Brazil, Great Britain, Croatia and Turkey in 2012.

“USA Basketball is very proud to celebrate Diana’s accomplishments in 2012, and we are grateful for all that she has done as a part of USA Basketball,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO. “In capturing her third Olympic gold medal she was incredible to watch on the court, and she was an absolute leader as well. Diana is one of the reasons the USA Women’s National Team has maintained such excellence and captured five straight Olympic gold medals.”

With 18 points and a 4-of-8 performance from 3-point in the USA’s win over Czech Republic on
Aug. 3. Taurasi tied the U.S. Olympic single-game record for 3-pointers attempted, a mark she reached twice before – in 2004 and 2008.

She led the USA with 22 points and four steals in a win against China on Aug. 5, and she was the team’s high scorer with 15 points and four assists in the USA’s quarterfinal win over Canada on Aug. 7.

In a semifinal win over Australia on Aug. 9, she added 14 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the free throw line, and she contributed nine points and six assists in the gold-medal victory over France on Aug. 11.

Among all participants in the 2012 Olympics, Taurasi ranked No. 2 in free throw percentage (.960), tied for No. 5 in 3-pointers made (15), tied for No. 9 in 3-point percentage and No. 13 in scoring (12.4) and assists (2.88).

In the U.S. career Olympic record book, Taurasi lists No. 3 in free throw percentage (.936), tied for No. 3 in career games (24), No. 5 in points (254) and assists (50), No. 7 in 3-point percentage (.396) and No. 8 in rebounds (70).

Taurasi played in eight games with the Phoenix Mercury in the 2012 WNBA season, and averaged 14.0 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 20.8 minutes per game.

She led her EuroLeague club Galatasaray (Turkey) to the 2012 Final Eight and finished the season with a fourth-straight EuroLeague scoring title after averaging 20.9 points per game during 2011-12.

Currently, Taurasi is playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg (Russia). She posted 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Ekaterinburg’s opener on Oct. 31, and with seven games played, she is averaging 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game (as of Jan. 4, 2012).

USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year Award was established in 1980 to recognize a USA Basketball athlete who, during the year of the award, made a significant impact on the success of her team’s performance. The USA Basketball Board of Directors is responsible for selecting its annual awards.

The USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year award has been earned by an impressive list of athletes since it was first given 30 years ago, including Breanna Stewart (2011), Tina Charles (2009), Katie Smith (2008), Dawn Staley (2004, 1994), Seimone Augustus (2003), Lisa Leslie (2002, 1998, 1993), Teresa Edwards (2000, 1996, 1990, 1987), Chamique Holdsclaw (1997), Cheryl Miller (1986, 1984), Lynette Woodard (1983) and Carol Blazejowski (1980).