Top Ten Players, Part One – The Posts
Jessica Breland, PF, North Carolina Breland, a 6-3 forward from the University of North Carolina has inspired her teammates on and off the court. The fifth-year senior missed the entire 2009-2010 season while being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma but came back this season against all odds to regain her dominance on the court. Since her return, Breland started 20 of 26 games for UNC, and led her team to the 2011 ACC Championship by averaging nearly 20 points per game throughout the tournament. She set a tournament record in the process, with 32 field goals in four games. Through the regular season Breland averaged 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds, and was named AP All-American Honorable Mention for her on-court efforts. Off the court she, her coach and teammates established the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund to support pediatric cancer at UNC with a plan to give cancer a full court press.
Elizabeth Cambage, C, Australia Australia ’s Elizabeth Cambage stands a little taller than the rest—literally at 6’8”. Currently playing for the Australian National Team and Bulleen in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) in Australia , the 19-year-old became eligible for the WNBA draft this season when she finished her second year in a professional league. She’s ready to make the move; already joking on Twitter that Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA ” will be her theme song for the season. She is expected to go in the top three of the draft and deservedly so. In the 2010-2011 Australian season, she averaged 22.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, and had a 59.5 field goal percentage. Cambage’s height has charted at 6’8” since she was fifteen years old and played in the FIBA U16, U18, and U20 International Championships. She led the Victorian Metropolitan team to the Australian Junior National Championship at every level, claiming the title every year from 2005-2009.
Amber Harris, PF, Xavier The versatile power forward wanted one more year at Xavier University , and she used it to lead her team to its third straight conference title. The 6-5 forward, considered by many to be one of the most naturally gifted athletes in the draft, will go quickly in the April 11 draft. Harris doesn’t like to leave things unfinished. She missed the entire 2008-09 college season due to injury. So even after she earned her degree last year, she decided to delay her professional career in order to return to Xavier for her last season of eligibility. Now she can add to her resume two consecutive perfect Atlantic 10 seasons, three straight conference regular season titles, and her second title as Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Harris is also a perfect 9-0 in A-10 Tournament games over her career. This season, she led the league with 2.2 blocked shots and 7.9 defensive rebounds per game. She also averaged a league third-best 18.8 points and was the second-leading rebounder with 10.3 boards a game.
Jantel Lavender, C, Ohio State Jantel Lavender , Ohio State’s 6-4 center, sank 21 points against Georgia Tech in the second round of this season’s NCAA tournament, bringing her to 135 consecutive games of scoring in double figures, an NCAA record. Her consistency in scoring and all-around skills on the court have earned this top post player plenty of attention as the WNBA draft approaches. The Ohio native is now Ohio State 's all-time leading scorer, breaking Katie Smith’s 15-year record this season. Lavender currently has over 2,800 career points. A four-time Big Ten Player of the Year, Lavender led the Buckeyes to their three consecutive conference championships, and ended her career as the Big Ten tournament leader in both points (234) and rebounds (116). Lavender is at the top of the Big Ten record books as all-time leading rebounder, with a career total of 1,352. She led the conference this season in not only rebounding, but also scoring and field goal percentage, averaging 10.7 rebounds and 22.6 points per game, and shooting 53.2 percent from the field.
Ta'Shia Phillips, C, Xavier The 6-6 Center from Xavier is expected to own the glass for whomever she plays in the 2011 WNBA season. A tenacious rebounder, Phillips pulled down 12.4 rebounds per game which propelled her to become the 2010-11 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and is now the A-10 and Xavier all-time leading rebounder. She helped lead Xavier to a 29-3 overall mark in 2010-11 and finished with two consecutive perfect Atlantic 10 seasons, three straight conference regular season titles and a perfect 9-0 in A-10 Tournament games over her career. Besides rebounding Ta’Shia knows how to score, never averaging less than 13.9 points per game over her four years and finishing her senior year ranked third nationally in field goal percentage (.605).