Brittney Griner
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ATLANTA -- The Big East sits atop the 2011-12 Naismith Women’s early season watch list, with 12 players from six different universities being recognized, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday.

The watch list includes the top women’s college basketball players from 35 schools, and was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2012 college basketball season. The 2012 Naismith Trophy will be awarded at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Denver.

Three schools -- Connecticut, Notre Dame and Tennessee -- have three players apiece on the list, while eight schools have two each. The list represents 13 conferences and features mostly upperclassmen.

“With 15 players returning from last season’s watch list, including two of last year’s finalists, this year’s Naismith Women’s Player of the Year trophy is all about experience,” said Eric Oberman, Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director. “We’re excited for all of the action to unfold and to see who is left standing at the end of the season.”

In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.

Notable Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year winners include Chamique Holdsclaw, Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, Tina Charles and last year’s winner, Maya Moore. The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball’s player of the year.

2011-12 NAISMITH TROPHY EARLY SEASON WATCH LIST
Name School Class Pos.   Name School Class Pos.
LaSondra Barrett LSU Sr. F   Maggie Lucas Penn State So. G
Alex Bentley Penn State Jr. G   Kevi Luper Oral Roberts Jr. G
Cierra Bravard Florida State Sr. F   A'dia Mathies Kentucky Jr. G
Brittany Carter Memphis Sr. G   Natalie Novosel Notre Dame Sr. G
Sydney Carter Texas A&M Sr. G   Chiney Ogwumike Stanford So. F
Carolyn Davis Kansas Jr. F   Nnemkadi Ogwumike Stanford Sr. F
Elena Delle Donne Delaware Jr. F/G   Shey Peddy Temple Sr. G
Skylar Diggins Notre Dame Jr. G   Devereaux Peters Notre Dame Sr. F
Stefanie Dolson Connecticut So. C   Samantha Prahalis Ohio State Sr. G
Aaryn Ellenberg Oklahoma So. G   Jaime Printy Iowa Jr. G
Shante Evans Hofstra Jr. F   Justine Raterman Dayton Sr. F
Casey Garrison Missouri State Sr. G   Monique Reid Louisville Sr. F
Jacki Gemelos USC Sr. G   Sugar Rodgers Georgetown Jr. G
Briana Gilbreath USC Sr. G   Khadijah Rushdan Rutgers Sr. G
Chelsea Gray Duke So. G   Shoni Schimmel Louisville So. G
Brittney Griner Baylor Jr. P   Naama Shafir Toledo Sr. G
Keisha Pampton DePaul Sr. F   Meighan Simmons Tennessee So. G
Whitney Hand Oklahoma Jr. G   Odyssey Sims Baylor So. G
Bria Hartley Connecticut So. G   Kayla Standish Gonzaga Sr. F
Tiffany Hayes Connecticut Sr. G   Da'Shena Stevens St. John's Sr. F
Courtney Hurt Va. Commonwealth Sr. F   Shekinna Stricklen Tennessee Sr. G
Jasmine James Georgia So. G   April Sykes Rutgers Sr. G
Shenise Johnson Miami (Fla.) Sr. F   Alyssa Thomas Maryland So. F
Lykendra Johnson Michigan State Sr. F   Tyra White Texas A&M Sr. G
Glory Johnson Tennessee Sr. F   Riquna Williams Miami (Fla.) Sr. G
Lynetta Kizer Maryland Sr. C          

• More: www.naismithawards.com