High schooler Brittney Griner can dunk like no other woman – Metro US

High schooler Brittney Griner can dunk like no other woman

Brittney Griner can dunk.

Not one of those just-above-the-rim throw-downs that have long been accepted as the best a woman can do in games of the past. When the six-foot-eight high school senior dunks, it can be a rim-rattling, backboard shaking, two-handed slam.

Simply put, she dunks like a guy.

“It was overwhelming, obviously, the first time I did it and I just wanted to do it more and more,” she said.

Add this athleticism to her speed, blocking and rebounding prowess and it’s easy to see how Griner has become more than simply a top recruit, but someone who might be able to transform the women’s game.

Griner, who signed with Baylor, is the top player in the country according to Rivals.com and ESPN’s HoopGurlz.

“I’ve been doing this a long time … but I’ve never seen anything like Brittney Griner,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.

Since Georgeann Wells of West Virginia became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA game almost 25 years ago, a handful of players have done it in college and WNBA games.

Virtually all those dunks have come on fast breaks and, while rare and certainly fodder for ESPN and YouTube, nobody gets those confused with anything Dr. J, or even Spud Webb, has ever done.

Griner could change that. As she gets older and more skilled, the 18-year-old who didn’t play organized basketball until ninth grade, could dunk as a normal part of Baylor’s offence.

Hall of Fame coach Jody Conradt, who retired from Texas with 900 wins, has worked with Griner in summer camps and is intrigued by her skills.

“She can (dunk) better and differently than anybody that I’ve seen in the women’s game,” Conradt said. “It’s effortless for her.”

Yet for all the sizzle those dunks create, Conradt thinks Griner’s other talents will be more valuable at the next level.

“She has great hands. She has excellent quickness. She obviously has tremendous size and mobility,” Conradt said. “She has every tool that I think a player needs to have to become one of the best players or maybe the best player ever. It’s not going to happen just dunking though.”

Griner’s high school coach, Debbie Jackson, has seen her dunk for years and says she still finds herself “amazed all the time.”

“My husband said: ‘You really shouldn’t say dunk, because people that haven’t seen Brittney just think, OK, she’s going over the rim and pushing the ball,”‘ Jackson said. “But she’s slamming the ball. They’re monster dunks.”

Some might even say they’re Shaq-adelic. Not surprisingly, she has a fan in the big fella himself, Shaquille O’Neal.

He said he met Griner last year and was shocked at how high above the rim she got.

“It would bring a whole new dimension to the women’s game,” O’Neal said.

Indeed, she has already brought the girls game in Texas above the rim and could do the same for college.

She’s dunked more than 50 times in games this season for Aldine Nimitz, the north Houston school that plays in the highest classification in Texas.

She’s averaging 27 points, 12 rebounds and almost eight blocks. Earlier this season, she set a national record by blocking 25 shots in a game. That night, she had seven more blocks than the other team had points.

Some aren’t so impressed with her block numbers because many opponents are more than a foot shorter than her. But Griner swatted away a handful of shots by fellow McDonald’s All-American Kelsey Bone, who is 6-5, with ease in a regional semifinal game Friday.

It helps that Griner has an 86 1/2-inch wingspan – 6 1/2 longer than her height.

“She’s not a post player that you have to wait on for her to run the floor,” Mulkey said. “If players push the ball up the floor they have the opportunity to be a part of a highlight reel because she can fly, she can run the floor like a deer. She’s a sight to just watch.”

Griner’s fame has been rising since a video of her dunking in practice showed up on YouTube two years ago. It’s been viewed almost 3.4 million times and crowds unheard of in girls basketball fill area gyms to see her play.

There were more than 6,300 fans at Nimitz’s win over Fort Bend Dulles on Friday. She dunked twice that night. (And video of those dunks has already received almost 30,000 views on YouTube.)

The first came after she stole the ball from Bone and finished with a one-handed dunk on the fast break.

But the second one was the real treat: Griner got the ball ahead of the crowd, shook the last defender at the top of the key and drove in for the two-hander. She hung on the rim for a couple of seconds as the stunned defender cleared out.

Nimitz supporters went wild, opposing fans cheered and Dulles players simply stared with their mouths agape.

But while her dunks create a frenzy among fans, they cause anxiety for her father Raymond Griner.

“Girls are going to take shots at her,” he said. “I told her: ‘If you’re running to dunk the ball if you’ve got somebody behind you or beside you, don’t go up and dunk it.’ It’s not worth it to go up and get something broken.”

Griner’s already ridiculous measurements, which include a size 17 shoe, are even more unbelievable considering she’s not finished growing. A recent examination revealed that she’s still growing and could reach 6-10 or 6-11.

Kind of odd considering Griner’s father is 6-2 and her mother only 5-8. Raymond Griner said she probably got her height from a branch of his family that boasts women who are 6-5 and a nephew, Houston rap star Slim Thug, who measures about 6-7.

While she loves being tall, it does make buying clothes difficult. She mostly wears sweats and gym shorts, but has trouble finding other clothes in stores.

“The Internet, a lot of hours on the Internet,” she said.

Does she ever shed the gym clothes and go for something more formal?

“At a banquet I might pull out a dress,” she said. “That’s tough though because I have to get those special made.”

After a pause and a couple of passes across her shoulders with her long, but suprisingly delicate-looking fingers to straighten her jersey, she continued.

“Makes me feel special knowing I’ve got something specially made,” she said standing up perfectly straight and looking even taller than 6-8. “That’s how I think about it.”

Associated Press Writer Antonio Gonzalez contributed to this report from Orlando, Fla.

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