Augustus only unanimous preseason All-American
Already hard enough to guard, Seimone Augustus is about to make life even more taxing for defenders.
The LSU star has been working on her 3-point shot and she's getting more confident in taking it, adding yet another dimension to an impressive array of offensive skills that has dazzled onlookers from the day she first put on a Lady Tigers uniform.
Augustus will start her senior season as the only unanimous selection on The Associated Press preseason All-America team, no surprise after she was an overwhelming choice as the national player of the year last season.
"A lot of good young players have attributes," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "Seimone has a game."
Joining Augustus on The AP team, chosen by a 46-member national media panel, were Ohio State's Jessica Davenport, Duke's Monique Currie, Baylor's Sophia Young and Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter.
Augustus, Currie and Davenport were first-team All-America picks at the end of last season, Young made the second team and Pondexter received honorable mention.
"This is a great honor," Augustus said. "Now I want to go out and have a very successful senior season, not only for myself, but for this team. I want to take it a step farther and win a national championship."
Augustus has led LSU to the Final Four each of the past two seasons, consistently beating opponents off the dribble with fluid moves or a pull-up jumper that's as sweet-looking as it is accurate.
By improving her range, Augustus gives defenders one more thing to think about and helps open up the floor for teammate Sylvia Fowles inside. In LSU's two exhibition games, Augustus went 3-for-3 from behind the arc.
"That is Seimone Augustus to a T," LSU coach Pokey Chatman said. "She's one of the best in the game, but she's always looking for ways to improve. Each year, she has taken a facet of the game and gotten better at it, whether it's working on her body, becoming a better defensive player or improving her rebounding."
Augustus is solid off the court, too. She already has earned a degree in general studies and is on track to get a second degree, in business marketing, in December just 3½ years after enrolling.
Currie and Pondexter both came back to college after rejecting a chance to turn pro. And both did so for the same reason: to try to help their team win the national championship.
"It made her teammates feel so good that she was committed to them, to the program, to our common goal," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said of Currie. "I think it gave them a lot of confidence in one another. She made a statement how serious she was about it."
Currie led Duke to the final eight in the NCAA Tournament last season, averaging 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists. She's quick enough to play on the perimeter, strong enough to go inside and eager to get the season started.
"As a team, we have very talented players," Currie said. "If we can get the chemistry we need, we can be as successful as we need to be this year."
Pondexter sat out the first part of last season for personal reasons. Once she got back into the flow, the super-quick 5-foot-9 guard led Rutgers to the Big East regular-season championship and took the Scarlet Knights to the regional finals in the NCAA Tournament.
"This award comes after years of hard work, but it's just the beginning," Pondexter said. "It's really nice to be acknowledged, but it's not about how you start the season, it's about how you finish."
Young led Baylor's remarkable run to the national championship last season and her return has made the Lady Bears the favorites to repeat their Big 12 title. A native of The Grenadines in the West Indies, Young didn't play organized ball until she was a sophomore in high school, but she caught on quickly.
She averaged 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds last season, was second on the team in assists and shot 52.6 percent.
"My main goal this season is our team performance," Young said. "If our team does well, that's what matters to me. Any individual honors I receive are a byproduct of our team results."
Davenport, a 6-4 junior, needed just two years at Ohio State to become one of the game's dominant centers. She had three 30-point games last season, shot 59 percent and became the school's first player to record a triple-double, getting 19 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks at Michigan State.
"I thank my teammates for helping me achieve this goal," Davenport said, "and I hope to be an All-American at the end of the season as well."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press