During the 2010-11 season, Maya Moore was a senior at UConn and by most accounts, the best player to ever come through Geno Auriemma's program. Less than three years later, sophomore Breanna Stewart appears to have wrested that title away from Moore, who now stars in the NBA.
On Tuesday, Stewart was named USA Basketball's Player of the Year. It was the second time she had received the honor, joining the likes of Diana Taurasi, Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie and Cheryl Miller.
As the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla points out, in just 52 games Stewart has 792 points while also leading the team in blocked shots. Oh, and she's not yet 20 years old.
“Breanna is a special player and a special person,” teammates Morgan Tuck said, via the Courant. “I think she’s on the track to be one of those legendary players that little girls 20 years from now will be talking about. She has a God-given talent and she works hard. And she has a good mindset about it all/ She’s humble. When you are given all those things, you should be able to go out and show it [off].”
And junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, one of the country's best shooters, added: “You know, because I’ve known her for so long and we’ve been teammates for so long, I just think of her as Stewie. But when I look at her as a player, you see all the potential, even after winning the award [USA Basketball]. You realize how much better she can be. There is no limit for her. She is a 6-4 post player who can shoot threes, handle the ball, blocks shots and is improving on defense. There is no other player as complete as she is.”
As for Stewart's commitment to her country, it's never been a question.
Stewie has always been honored to be a part of USA Basketball," Coach Auriemma said earlier this week. "To her, its one of the most important things she can do. She never passes us the chance to participate. She’s played at her age group, she’s played above it by sometimes three years [of age]. And she always performs at a very high level. She has a strong commitment that USA Basketball appreciates."
And for good reason: Stewart's already one of the best players in the country.