By Dennis J. Freeman
Los Angeles, CA-Maya Moore is used to being on top. UConn’s all-time leading scorer has had a storied collegiate career, taking the Huskies to four Final Four appearances and winning two national championships.
She’s a four-time Academic All-American and played an integral part in UConn establishing the all-time win streak in college basketball at 90 straight victories.
Though UConn fell short of winning a third national title this year, the Huskies won 150 of the 154 games it played with Moore in the lineup. Before she was drafted as the WNBA’s No.1 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx, Moore picked up another of a long list of awards and honors; the John R. Wooden Award. But the John R. Wooden Award isn’t just any award.
The John R. Wooden Award, named after the UCLA coaching legend, is considered to be the cream of the crop in awards honoring and recognizing the best in college basketball. For the second time in her career, Moore was bestowed the Wooden Award trophy, signifying her as the best of the best in women college basketball.
It’s an honor that Moore considers to be as great as Wooden himself.
“It’s a huge honor,” Moore told news4usonline.com after picking up the award at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. “Everything that the Wooden Award stands for, the people that are involved in makes it more special. Just the fact I’ve been able to be involved with it for the last four years, to go out as a senior this way, and to be with all these great guys and the other finalists on the women’s side, it’s been a blast.”
Moore (678 points), who outpointed Baylor’s Brittney Griner (566 points) in a nationwide vote from women’s college basketball media members to win the award, said she never thought she would have the career she had. That’s kind of hard to imagine. Moore tallied 3,036 career points, grabbed 1, 276 rebounds and made 311 three-pointers during her career.
In leading UConn to the Final Four as a senior this season, Moore averaged 22.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and four assists per game. Moore’s numbers are even more spectacular considering she and Connecticut teammates wore a bullseye on their backs every night as the team to beat.
“My career was more than what I could have dreamed,” Moore said. “Just the fact that I was able to come in and to play with a professional group of players, to have such a dedicated group of coaches and for us to go on the run we did the last three years, it speaks to what can happen when you get the right people with the right dedication and selflessness, you can make history.”
Moore is a four-time John Wooden All American. She is the third woman to win the Wooden Award trophy twice. Los Angeles Sparks and former Tennessee star Candace Parker and Seimone Augustus are the two other women to win the prestigious award twice. Moore won the award in 2009 as well.
With her collegiate career fulfilled, Moore said she plan on doing the same things at the professional level that made her a star in college.
“I want to take the same mindset, the same determination to do all the little things I can do to get ahead,” said Moore. “That’s to be a great teammate, to learn even more, and hopefully come out and bring a lot of wins to whatever team I am drafted by.”