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April 16, 2008ANNOUNCING THE 2008
EA SPORTS ALL-AMERICAN
GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
Torrance, Calif. -- The question about naming Delaware phenom Elena Delle Donne as the 2008 EA SPORTS National Player of the Year for girls basketball wasn't about her obvious talent or her voluminous accomplishments.
It was more a question of whether she missed too many games due to a bout with mononucleosis early in the season. And while the 6-foot-5 senior did miss significant games for her Ursuline Academy of Wilmington team at the NIKE Tournament of Champions in Arizona in December, she did come back and play a majority of the Raiders' games and ended up leading them to a fourth Delaware state title in the last five years.
It was enough for Delle Donne to edge Texas standout Nneka Ogwumike for the top 2008 national honor.
A year ago, Delle Donne was an easy choice as the EA SPORTS National Junior Player of the Year and she ends up topping her class in each of her final four years of high school. She also is the first four-time EA SPORTS All-American in any sport in the six-year history of the EA SPORTS All-American program. Going back further, the only other four-time girls basketball All-Americans have been Tamika Catchings of Illinois and the legendary Cheryl Miller of California.
Delle Donne, who will be headed to the University of Connecticut in the fall to join head coach Geno Auriemma's outstanding program, played in Ursuline's first game, then missed 10 in a row while battling mono. She came back on January 18 and dominated with 38 points as the Raiders beat Christ The King of New York. Delle Donne followed that up with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks when Ursuline defeated Archbishop Carroll of Pennsylvania, which was nationally-ranked the entire season.
Defending champion St. Elizabeth of Wilmington was again the top seed for the Delaware state playoffs, but with Delle Donne healthy the title game was no contest as Ursuline won, 47-33, with the star player struggling but still scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
With Delle Donne in the lineup, Ursuline didn't lose a game all season and ended up at No. 22 in the final Rivals.com FAB 50 national rankings. She also finished with averages of 31 points and 11 rebounds for the season with a high of 51.
For her career, Delle Donne became the all-time leading scorer for Delaware, boys included, with 2,818 points. Another career highlight, in addition to the state titles, came during her sophomore year when she connected for a national-record 80 straight free throws in a row.
Delle Donne recently added even more to her resume by being named MVP at the Women's Basketball Coaches Association all-star game. She had 17 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals as her Red team easily topped the White team, 114-79.
Several juniors were strongly considered for the 20-member first team 2008 EA SPORTS Girls All-American basketball team, but the only junior to attain that high of an honor was Indiana's Skylar Diggins. She therefore became the obvious selection to be the EA SPORTS National Junior Player of the Year.
In addition to Delle Donne and Diggins, two other EA SPORTS top national player honors are going out to Lauren Avant from Lausanne Collegiate of Tennessee among sophomores and to Bria Smith from Christ the King of New York for freshmen. Avant was the top pick for freshmen a year ago and this year was a divisional state MVP and might have gotten Miss Basketball in her state if it weren't for All-American Glory Johnson completing her career so strongly. Smith actually started on the Royals' freshmen team, but was moved up to the varsity shortly after the season began. She ended up scoring 32 points in a state championship game and already is being compared favorably to many of the all-time best players who have come from Christ the King like Chamique Holdsclaw and Sue Bird.
"We're proud to honor these young women and are looking forward to seeing these players continue to compete at a high level as they move on in their basketball careers," said Brian Movalson, EA SPORTS Director of Sports Marketing. "The EA SPORTS All-American honor is becoming one of the best in high school athletics because of the way they are done and because of the people who do the research behind the scenes. These student-athletes truly represent the best in the game in high school athletics."
Also named along with the players as the EA SPORTS National Coach of the Year in girls basketball is Brian Harrigan from Sacred Heart Cathedral High of San Francisco.
Although he tries to stay low-key and out of the spotlight, there's no doubt Harrigan has been the mastermind behind the success of the Irish girls and their Rivals.com No. 1 national ranking.
"It means a lot to me after all these years of hard work paying off but it's really a great honor for the whole Sacred Heart Cathedral community," Harrigan told EA SPORTS when informed of the honor.
Besides this year's team, which won its third consecutive California state title, Sacred Heart Cathedral has a 57-game winning streak and has won 10 consecutive sectional titles. Harrigan won his 500th game two seasons ago and is one of the winningest active coaches in California.
Harrigan's teams have always had a trademark of sharing the ball and playing aggressive, full court pressure defense. This year's squad was no exception as the team had no one average over 15 points per game yet it were able to take down teams by shutting down the other team's offense.
Despite a tragedy that involved the murder of the father of a star player at halftime of a home game in January, Harrigan held the team together and brought his native San Francisco its first No. 1 national ranking ever in any high school sport.
The editors of Student Sports, which have named All-American teams and compiled national rankings in numerous sports for over 20 years, select the annual EA SPORTS All-American Teams. The format for the team calls for it not to be selected until all teams have finished their seasons, which makes the EA SPORTS honors more reflective of players who led their teams to state championships. The teams also are chosen after almost all of the numerous all-state teams around the country have been released.
Over the next month, EA SPORTS also will be bringing the All-American program into households across the nation with an hour-long syndicated television special that will air in almost all the major markets in the U.S. The TV special begins airing in some areas of the country on April 19th.
Both the girls basketball and boys basketball All-American teams are included in that broadcast, along with previously announced All-American teams in football and girls golf. Still to come later this year will be EA SPORTS All-American teams in baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer and boys golf.
ABC college football reporter Todd Harris and Oakland Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison will host the EA SPORTS High School All-American TV show.
To view the 2008 EA SPORTS All American Girls Basketball first and second team CLICK HERE.
About EA SPORTS
EA SPORTS, the leading interactive sports software brand in the world, delivers real sports simulation games for sports fans. With EA SPORTS "if it's in the game...it's in the game." EA SPORTS is a brand of Electronic Arts (EA), the world's leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software for personal computers and advanced entertainment systems. Top-selling titles and franchises include FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL Football, NCAA Football, NBA? LIVE Basketball and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR? Golf. The EA SPORTS All-American program honors the nation's top high school players in football, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, baseball and softball and, in conjunction with Student Sports, recognizes the top student-athletes for their achievements both on and off the field.
About Student Sports
Based in Torrance, Calif., Student Sports has been the leader in high school sports coverage since 1979 with divisions specializing in events, marketing, television and the Internet. In addition to aiding with the development of the SPARQ Rating, a sport-specific numeric value which gives high school athletes a way to gauge overall athleticism, the company also provides editorial information for several major Web sites including StudentSports.com (www.studentsports.com), StudentSportsFootball.com, StudentSportsSoccer.com, StudentSportsSoftball.com, StudentSportsBasketball.com, StudentSportsBaseball.com, Dyestat.com (track & field), CalHiSports.com and MDVarsity.com. Except for Dyestat.com, all are part of the Rivals.com network of sports team and affinity sites. The company also provides content for SPARQ and Rivals.com and also publishes an array of newsletters and record books including the "National High School Football Record Book" and "National High School Boys Basketball Record Book." Student Sports created and implements such events as the NIKE Football Training Camps, the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp and the Area Code Games. The company earned four Emmy Awards for its "Inside Cal-Hi Sports" show and has developed TV programming airing on ESPN, CSTV, and ESPN2, including the "EA SPORTS Elite 11 Quarterback Show."