Moore is unanimous All-America pick
Preseason or postseason, Maya Moore is making a habit of racking up honors.
The UConn junior became just the seventh unanimous choice on The Associated Press' preseason All-America team Tuesday, garnering all 40 votes from a national media panel. It's the third straight year a player has been a unanimous choice in the preseason.
"It's a great honor to be mentioned with them," said Moore, who was one vote short of being an unanimous choice last preseason. "I've been truly blessed to have such great teammates."
Moore was joined on the preseason squad by teammate Tina Charles, Stanford's Jayne Appel, Ohio State's Jantel Lavender, and Virginia's Monica Wright. It was the fifth time two players from the same team made the All-America squad.
UConn also had two of the four other pairs of teammates on a preseason team -- Jen Rizzotti and Kara Wolters in 1995-96 and Shea Ralph and Svetlana Abrosimova in 2000-01.
Moore has already made the All-America team in her first two years and was the AP's player of the year last season. She averaged 19.3 points and 8.9 rebounds last season in helping UConn to a 39-0 record. The Huskies are a unanimous No. 1 in the preseason poll this year
Charles stepped up her game in the NCAA tournament, earning most outstanding player honors. The senior center is on pace to set the school career scoring record.
"Tina really has made huge strides in consistency over the last few months starting with the NCAA tournament and going through the summer playing with USA basketball," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "She saw what she can do and now just needs to do it every game."
Appel also made a splash in the NCAA tournament. She scored 46 points in the regional finals against Iowa State and followed up with a 26-point effort in the national semifinals loss to UConn.
"It's a thrill to be an All-American," the Stanford senior said.
Moore, Charles, and Appel were among the 23 invitees to USA basketball's national team training camp that took place at the end of September.
"It really is flattering to be considered among the best of the best," Appel said.
Lavender averaged 20.8 points and 10.7 rebounds in helping Ohio State to a 29-6 record and a Big Ten title. She is just the second Ohio State player, joining Jessica Davenport, to be honored as a preseason All-America.
Wright became the first Virginia player to earn preseason honors since Wendy Palmer in 1995-96. Palmer is now an assistant coach with the Cavaliers. Wright was surprised to learn she had now joined her coach.
"Wow. That is quite an honor," Wright said. "To be in the same category as Wendy is truly special."
The senior guard led Virginia with 20.5 points and will be called upon to provide more leadership this year with the Cavaliers having such a young team.
"This is a great All-America team because everyone of these players has earned it over what they've done through their careers," said DePaul's Doug Bruno, who has coached all five players during different stints with USA Basketball. "It's especially great for Monica Wright, who has flown under the radar."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press