Griner signs with Chinese team

Staff Report

Center Brittney Griner, selected No. 1 in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury will play in China after her first U.S. pro season comes to an end, it was announced last week.

In the past four collegiate seasons, the 203-cm Baylor University product was a brilliant high-scoring, shot-blocking performer with the rare ability to deliver slam dunks (11 as a senior, including three in her final home game) as well. She became the first NCAA women’s player to amass 2,000 points and 500 blocks. Her four-season averages: 22.2 points, 8.8 and 5.0 blocks per game.

Griner was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Her 748 career blocks top the charts for men and women in NCAA history, and her 3,283 points is the second-highest total for all women.

In China, Griner will play for the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. The Chinese League begins play in October and runs through February. The Mercury started training camp on Sunday, 14 days before their preseason opener against the Japan women’s national team.

Phoenix coach Corey Gaines, a former NBA and JBL player with Japanese heritage on his mother’s side, recognizes that Griner is a phenomenal talent.

“She’s definitely going to be a player that changes the game as we know it today,” Gaines was quoted as saying in an April 15 story posted on azcentral.com the day Phoenix selected her No. 1 in the draft.