By Mitch Stephens
If the East is going to gain ground on the West in the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Girls Game, it will have one giant obstacle in the middle.
Brittney Griner, a 6-foot-8 senior post from Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas, heads the West squad, which owns a 5-2 series lead following a 80-64 victory last season in Milwaukee.
The teams were announced today for the eighth annual game that will be played in Miami, Fla., on April 1. See entire team below or go to McDonald’s website.
Griner, who averages 27.9 points and more than eight blocks per game, has become a YouTube sensation for her dunking and blocking ability. Many believe she’s going to revolutionize the women’s game starting next year at Baylor.
California is the big college winner with four recruits on the West squad: Gennifer Brandon, DeNesha Stallworth, Eliza Pierre and Tierra Rogers.
A pair of USC recruits, Christian Marinacci and Monique Oliver, also should carry the West, whose most potent scorers will likely be Tayler Hill and Tennessee-bound Taber Spani. Hill is one of only two All-Americans selected to the game who has not made her college choice.
The other is Kelsey Bone, a 6-5 post from Dulles High School in Stafford, Texas, who heads the East squad along with National Player of the Year favorite Skylar Diggins (see story).
Another big Texas post, 6-4 Cokie Reed (Midway, Hewitt, Texas) will battle Griner down low.
While the West features several players who will join forces in college, the East has none. Among other Top 20 recruits for the East are 6-3 Joslyn Tinkle (Big Sky, Mont.), 6-3 Destiny Williams and 6-2 Markel Walker.
Among those who have been selected to the game are future and current WNBA standouts Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Courtney Paris, Nikki Blue, LaTangela Atkinson (Indiana Fever), Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Willnett Crockett (Los Angeles Sparks), Tye-sha Fluker (Charlotte Sting), Erin Grant (Seattle Storm), Ann Strother (Phoenix Mercury), Kasha Terry (Indiana Fever), Barbara Turner (Seattle Storm), Mistie Williams (Houston Comets) and Shanna Zolman (San Antonio Silver Stars).
See results from last year’s games and other stories.
2009 MCDONALD’S GIRLS ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS – EAST
C Kelsey Bone, 6-5, Dulles (Stafford, Texas), Undecided
G Skylar Diggins, 5-9, Washington (South Bend, Ind.), Notre Dame
G Kelly Faris, 5-11, Heritage Christian (Plainfield, Ind.), Connecticut
F Jasmine Hassell, 6-2, Wilson Central (Lebanon, Tenn.), Georgia
C Cokie Reed, 6-4, Midway (Hewitt, Texas), Texas
G TaShauna Rodgers, 5-11, King’s Fork (Suffolk, Va.), Georgetown
F Morgan Stroman, 6-2, Lower Richland (Hopkins, S.C.), Miami
G Dara Taylor, 5-7, Caravel Academy (Wilmington, Del.), Maryland
F Joslyn Tinkle, 6-3, Big Sky (Missoula, Mont.), Stanford
F Markel Walker, 6-2, Schenley (Pittsburgh, Pa.), UCLA
G Erica Wheeler, 5-8, Parkway Academy (Miami, Fla.), Rutgers
C Destiny Williams, 6-3, Benton Harbor (Mich.), Illinois
Head coach: Abby Ward (South Broward, Hollywood, Fla.)
2009 MCDONALD’S GIRLS ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS – WEST
F Gennifer Brandon, 6-3, Chatsworth (Sylmar, Calif.), California
G China Crosby, 5-5, Manhattan Center (Bronx, N.Y.), Virginia
C Brittney Griner, 6-8, Nimitz (Houston, Texas), Baylor
G Tayler Hill, 5-10, South (Minneapolis, Minn.), Undecided
C Stephanie Holzer (Cardinal O’Hara, Newton Square, Pa.), Vanderbilt
F Christina Marinacci, 6-2, Foothill (Santa Ana, Calif.), USC
C Monique Oliver, 6-2, Long Beach Poly (Calif.), USC
G Eliza Pierre, 5-8, John Muir (Pasadena, Calif.), California
F Tierra Rogers, 5-11, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco, Calif.), California
G Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, 6-0, T.C. Williams (Alexandria, Va.), North Carolina
G Taber Spani, 6-1, Metro Academy (Lee Summit, Mo.), Tennessee
F DeNesha Stallworth, 6-3, Pinole Valley (Pinole, Calif.), California
Head coach: Dave Power (Fenwick, Oak Park, Ill.)