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Autumn Johnson | September 25, 2020

Dawn Staley: College basketball stats, best moments, quotes

Dawn Staley is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, who was known for her leadership, passion and natural talent for the game. Staley later evolved to be a three-time Olympian and WNBA star in her playing career. 
Here's everything you need to know about Dawn Staley's college career at Virginia. 

Dawn Staley's college basketball stats, vitals

School: Virginia 
Position: Guard 
Height: 5-6
Weight: 128 lbs
Years active: 1988-92
NCAA tournament record: 11-4
Career averages: 16.3 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, 5.6 assists per game and 46% shooting 
1989 31 197-431 45.7 5.1 4.6 102 18.5 574
1990 32 203-449 45.2 6.7 4.4 102 17.9 574
1991 34 176-391 45.0 6.1 6.9 133 14.6 495
1992 34 177-366 48.4 5.6 6.1 117 14.5 492
CAREER 131 753-1637 46.0 5.9 5.6 729 16.3 2135

What was Dawn Staley's record in college?

Virginia went 110-21 in four seasons with Dawn Staley. In Staley's junior year, she helped her team to a 31-3 regular-season record and finished with an undefeated ACC record (14-0). In Staley's senior year, the Cavaliers clinched the No.1 spot again in the ACC (15-1) and finished with a 32-2 regular season record. 

Did Dawn Staley win a national championship in college?

She did not. Staley led Virginia to the NCAA tournament all four years of her career. Staley helped advance her team to three Final Fours (1990, 1991, 1992) and one National Championship in 1991, but Virginia lost in overtime against Tennessee, 70-67. 


What kind of prospect was Dawn Staley in high school?

Staley played high school basketball at Murrell Dobbins Tech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a stand-out player leading the Mustangs to three consecutive Philadelphia Public League Championships. During Staley's senior year, she was named USA Today's National High School Player of the Year. 

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What was Dawn Staley's game like?

Dawn Staley is 5'6, but she always played with the biggest presence on the court. Her natural talent, passionate spirit and hunger to win made her one of the best point guards in women's basketball history. Staley ran the show as the leader, yet made sure her teammates got better every day. 

Staley's Philadelphia swag on the court was something that could not be taught nor coached. She knew where to attack, when to attack and how to attack her defenders at all times. The quick, shifty guard also brought a huge impact to Virginia with her defensive efforts. Swiping away 729 career steals, Staley saw plays unfold before her opponents could. 

What were some of Dawn Staley's best games?

In the 1991 NCAA women's basketball championship, Staley scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Despite falling to the Lady Vols, Staley was awarded the Final Four's Most Outstanding player. 

  • Most points in an NCAA Tournament game 32 vs. Penn State, 3/18/90
  • Tied for steals in a single-game 10 vs. Temple, 11/30/91
  • Second person in ACC history and the first Cavalier to have a triple-double 24 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists vs. N.C. State, 1-12-91
  • 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists vs. N.C. State, 2-23-91

What awards did Dawn Staley win in college?

  • Naismith Trophy Winner (1991,1992)
  • Honda-Broderick Cup Award for Collegiate Female Athlete of the year (1991)
  • Sports Illustrated Player of the Year (1991)
  • Kodak All-American (1990, 1991, 1992) 
  • ACC Player of the Year (1991, 1992) 
  • NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (1991) 
  • ACC Rookie of the Year (1989) 

What records did Dawn Staley set in college and where does she rank among historical greats?

When Staley finished her college career, she tallied 2,135 points to be Virginia's all-time scoring leader, a record broken by former guard Monica Wright. Staley's scoring efforts made her the first Virginia player and fifth women in ACC history to score 2,000 career points. She also finished her career as Virginia and ACC's all-time leader in assists (729), but that record was broken by Sharnee Zoll. Currently, Staley still owns the record for career free throws made (505). 

In the NCAA women's basketball record book, Staley is the 11th all-time in career steals (454). Staley's No. 24 jersey is retired at John Paul Jones Arena.


What did people say about Dawn Staley?

Debbie Ryan, University of Virginia head coach: "I remember Dawn first arriving here, and she was a very, very quiet reserved non-communicative person who was pretty street wise and had a little edge about her."

Debbie Ryan: "She was just so gifted it was amazing. And what made her gifted was that she saw things long before anybody else did. Two and three plays ahead. She kind of knew what was going to happen, and she knew what to call, and she just knew how to manipulate the game, it was amazing."

Debbie Ryan: "So many of the things that Dawn did were just naturally what Dawn was about. So her personality became a national symbol of what women's basketball should be about. I think that's the thing that makes me the most proud of Dawn Staley and that the University of Virginia played a small part in her life." 

Rebecca Lobo: "I can remember being in high school seeing this phenomenal player who I heard so much about. Dawn Staley. Just out there doing everything that I heard she could do and completely living up to the hype." 

Craig Littlepage, Virginia Direcor of Athletics: “Far more important than words, Dawn has had a dramatic and positive influence on women’s sport, creating a greater awareness for the high quality of women’s college sports across the nation.”

Dawn Staley quotes

"I have to go back to when it was just a couple of handful of people that use to come to our games my first year, and then our second year you just saw seats being filled up, my third year there were very little vacant seats, and then my last year we almost sold the place out every home game."

"I had a really hard time getting over that loss (to Tennessee). It was probably because I was so close to getting my childhood dream. So I watched that game over, and over, and over, and over again." 

“I was a player that came from the inner city, and I didn’t have a whole lot of structure as far as basketball,” Staley says. “[Debbie] allowed me to make mistakes instead of trying to change who I was."

"I gave it my all. I can truly walk away from my experiences at Virginia and say 'there is nothing more that I can do. I wouldn't go back and change anything."

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