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Polk remembered as having warm, direct disposition

9/29/2005 - Arizona Wildcats

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona center Shawntinice Polk, who died
of a pulmonary blood clot Monday after collapsing on campus, was
remembered Wednesday night as strong athlete who had a warm and
direct disposition.

More than 1,000 students, coaches, school administrators and
fans attended a memorial service for the 22-year-old player at the
McKale Center, the university arena where she collapsed. She wasn't
working out or practicing at the time of her death.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior was a three-time all-Pac-10
selection and two-time honorable mention All-American selection.
She also was the school's career leader in double-doubles (46) and
blocked shots (222).

"She was an incredible basketball player, but her truest gifts
were her personality and love for the other people that she was
with," Arizona women's coach Joan Bonvicini said. "Her voice,
especially her laugh, could be heard for a block, and believe me,
she was hilarious."

Teammates lined up to share their thoughts on Polk, who
preferred her nickname "Polkey."

"I was always excited just to be around her," said sophomore
guard Ashley Whisonant, her voice breaking up. "She was always
very straightforward. If you needed an honest opinion, she was the
one to go to."

Senior Natalie Jones explained how she felt when she hearing of
Polk's death.

"I felt lost and numb, like someone had just ripped my heart
out," Jones said through tears. "Look how many lives you touched,
Polkey."

Arizona men's basketball star Hassan Adams spoke of his
relationship with Polk as though they were siblings.

"I felt protected around her," Adams said. "She was like a
big sister to me."

The Pima County Medical Examiner's Office has said the cause of
death for Polk was rare for a healthy woman of her age.

Polk was the driving force behind a team that went 20-12 and
earned an NCAA Tournament berth last season. She led the conference
in blocked shots at 2.1 per game last season and was third in
rebounding at eight per game.

She was an honorable mention AP all-American selection as a
freshman and sophomore before playing through much of her junior
season with a knee injury. She still averaged 12.7 points and 8
rebounds a game last season.

Polk was a Parade magazine first-team All-American at Hanford
(Calif.) High School.

Funeral services will be held Sunday in Polk's hometown of
Hanford.

She is survived by her mother, Johnny Little, four older
brothers and two older sisters.