IRVING -- In the midst of their first-ever Big 12 Conference championship crown, Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair was named Big 12 Coach of the Year, while four players received all-conference honors for the nationally-ranked Aggies.
Blair led Texas A&M to its first-ever women’s basketball conference title with a 67-60 victory over rival Texas in the regular season finale on Feb. 28. The Aggies tied Oklahoma tied for the regular season championship with a program-best 13-3 mark in league play. A&M posted its first undefeated season at home in the 33-year history of the program with a 16-0 record at Reed Arena. Their 23 victories this season tie for the third-most in school history. The Aggies enter the upcoming Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship as the No. 1 seed for the first time in league history, after winning the tiebreaker with series sweeps over defending league champion OU and 2005 national champion Baylor. A&M (23-5) posted back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.
Blair, a native of Dallas, previously was named Southland Conference Coach of the Year five times (1988, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993) while the head coach at mid-major Stephen F. Austin from 1985-93. He later coached in the Southeastern Conference at Arkansas from 1993-03. This is his first major conference honor of his 22-year coaching career.
Sophomore Danielle Gant, a 5-foot-11 sophomore guard/forward from Oklahoma City, Okla., garnered the league’s inaugural Sixth Man Award and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors for the first time of her career. She played in all 28 games of the season with 13 starts for the Aggies. Gant currently ranks third on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.2 rpg) off the bench. She is shooting a team-best 56.0 percent from the floor which ranks fourth-best in the league. Gant also ranks second in steals (2.1 avg), 11th in rebounding and eight in double-doubles (6) through all games played in the Big 12.
Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris was honored as Big 12 Player of the Year for the second year in a row, while Baylor’s Bernice Mosby was voted Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Paris was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. The honors were voted on by the league’s head coaches, with coaches not allowed to vote for their own players.
In addition, Texas A&M junior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) and sophomore Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) were named All-Big 12 First Team selections for the first time of their careers. Both played and started in all 28 games of the season for the Big 12 champion Aggies. Starks, a 5-foot-8 guard, is averaging a team-leading 14.2 points per game which ranks eighth-best among Big 12 scoring leaders this season. She also ranks fourth in the league with a 40.6 accuracy from beyond the arc. Franklin, a 5-foot-3 point guard, led the league for the second-straight season in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.94) and ranks fifth in assists (4.8). She (12.4 ppg) and Starks (13.1 ppg) led the team in scoring average in all 16 conference games. Franklin previously earned All-Big 12 honorable mention honors in 2006 as a sophomore, while Starks was honored on the inaugural Big 12 All-Rookie Team in 2006 as a freshman. This is the first time in school and league history in which A&M has had two first team honorees.
Gant was a triple award winner also taking home Big 12 All-Defensive Team honors along with sophomore teammate La Toya Micheaux (Missouri City, Texas). Micheaux, a 6-foot-3 center, is averaging a team-leading 7.6 rebounds per game and is one of only 11 players in school history to grab 200-or-more rebounds in a singles season on 15 all-time occasions. Gant is one of the 11 with 202 rebounds to date, while Micheaux has brought down 214 for the season with a team-high 102 offensive boards. She ranks ninth in the Big 12 in rebounding and third in offensive rebounds. Both combine for 39 percent of A&M’s board production this season with 44 percent on the offensive end.
2006-07 PHILLIPS 66 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ALL-BIG 12 AWARDS
Coach of the Year: Gary Blair (Texas A&M)
Player of the Year: Courtney Paris (Oklahoma)
Newcomer of the Year: Bernice Mosby (Baylor)
Freshman of the Year: Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State)
Defensive Player of the Year: Courtney Paris (Oklahoma)
Sixth Man Award: Danielle Gant (Texas A&M)
All-Big 12 First Team (alphabetical by school)
Bernice Mosby (Baylor), Jackie McFarland (Colorado), Lyndsey Medders (Iowa State), EeTisha Riddle (Missouri), Kelsey Griffin (Nebraska), Kiera Hardy (Nebraska) Courtney Paris (Oklahoma), Tiffany Jackson (Texas), A’Quonesia Franklin (Texas A&M) and Takia Starks (Texas A&M)
All-Big 12 Second Team (alphabetical by school)
Angela Tisdale (Baylor), Shaquina Mosley (Kansas ), Claire Coggins (Kansas State), Danielle Gant (Texas A&M) and Alesha Robertson (Texas Tech)
All-Big 12 Honorable Mention (alphabetical by school)
Jasmina Ilic (Colorado), Nicky Wieben (Iowa State), Shalee Lehning (Kansas State), Tiffany Brooks and Carlynn Savant (Missouri), Chelsea Aubry (Nebraska), Erin Higgins, Leah Rush and Chelsi Welch (Oklahoma), Danielle Green and Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State), Patrice Edwards (Texas Tech)
Big 12 All-Defensive Team (alphabetical by school)
Jhasmin Player (Baylor ), Courtney Paris (Oklahoma), Erneisha Bailey (Texas), Danielle Gant (Texas A&M) and La Toya Micheaux (Texas A&M)
Big 12 All-Rookie Team (alphabetical by school)
Danielle Wilson (Baylor), Ashley Sweat (Kansas State), Amanda Thompson (Oklahoma), Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State) and Carla Cortijo (Texas)