Two Hoosier natives named to Wooden & Wade watch lists

Posted by RRR on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:56am | Page Views: 2,175

Skylar Diggins and Alex Bentley duke it out at the 2009 IHSAA 4A State Finals.At the 2009 IHSAA State Finals, the 4A game was a showdown between the two top-ranked teams in the country – ESPN No. 1 South Bend Washington and USA Today No. 1 Ben Davis. In that game, you had two teams coming in with undefeated records and the two top senior candidates in the state — Skylar Diggins and Alex Bentley — vying for Miss Basketball honors. A lot was on the line and it was a game of historic proportions. (Read the preview to this game in the RRR archives.)

Those of us who were at that game will remember it for the gritty resolve shown by both teams and both team leaders. Diggins did all she could for her team, playing a full 32 minutes while scoring 29 points, and going 12 of 13 from the line. Bentley was efficient with 18 points on 9 of 18 shooting in 22 minutes before fouling out with nearly three minutes left in the game. In the end, it was an upstart sophomore — Bria Goss, now in her freshman year at Kentucky — that decided the game. She hit a buzzer-beating runner to give the 30-0 Giants a two-point win and the first of back-to-back state championship titles.

While Bentley took home the championship trophy & medal that memorable Saturday, Diggans later laid claim to the No. 1 jersey as Indiana’s 2009 Miss Basketball. Both have gone on to become leading players for their teams at Penn State and Notre Dame, and both are now being honored as they start their junior campaigns as members of an elite group of women’s basketball college players named to the Wooden Award and Wade Trophy watch lists. With three-time winner Maya Moore (Connecticut) now in the pro ranks, these two actually have a chance of winning one or both of these awards in 2012.

Bentley begins her junior season as the Nittany Lions’ go-to player. As a sophomore, she averaged 14.4 points, 5.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. She was named First Team Big Ten by the coaches and Third Team Big Ten by the media, as well as landing Big Ten All-Tournament Team honors after the Lions made it to the B10 Tournament finals (losing to Ohio State), where she averaged 15.3 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 steals through three games.

In her two seasons at Notre Dame, Diggins has evolved into the player all envisioned she would be at the next level. As a sophomore, she led her team to the NCAA National Championship Finals where the Irish lost to Texas A&M. She averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game. The lefty was a State Farm Coaches’ All-American, Associated Press All-America Third Team, unanimous All-Big East First Team and a finalist for the Wooden Award, Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and Nancy Lieberman Award. For her outstanding play during the NCAA Tournament, Diggins was named the NCAA Dayton Regional Most Outstanding Player and a member of the NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team.

Both players are poised to do great things for their teams this season. Notre Dame is already being considered a No. 1 contender in the Big East and nationally, while Penn State will again be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten.

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