Bonner the Pick As SEC Player of the Year

Auburn is picked to finish third in the SEC and two seniors have been selected to play on preseason all-conference teams.

Auburn, Ala.--Senior guard/forward DeWanna Bonner has been voted SEC Preseason Women's Basketball Player of the Year.

Soon to be a four-year starter for the Tigers, the six-foot-five Bonner averaged 18.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a junior. She received 24 of 25 votes for the player of the year honor selected by media who cover the conference and was named to the preseason All-SEC team for a third straight year.

Another Auburn senior, point guard Whitney Boddie, is a second team All-SEC selection. She averaged 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists as a junior.

Whitney Boddie takes a jump shot.

Vanderbilt is picked to win the overall league title with 2008 NCAA champ Tennessee picked as the runnerup. Auburn is predicted to finish third while Georgia and LSU are picked to finish fourth and fifth.

Joining Bonner as first team All-SEC picks are Florida's Marshae Dotson, Georgia's Ashley Houts, Shawn Goff of Ole Miss and Vanderbilt's Christina Wirth.

Bonner has been a star player for the Tigers since joining the team as a freshman after an outstanding career at Fairfield High.

"It really has been a fast-paced four years,' she said. "It just seems like yesterday that we stepped on campus and started playing basketball. I am very excited about my last year being able to share with the teammates that I have. I think it is going to be a great year."

Bonnner's Tigers are expected to play up-tempo, a strategy that worked early in the season until they lost Boddie. After that they were forced to slow their pace.

"The new strategy that we have is going to make everything more fun and more enjoyable so everyone should definitely come out and see us play," Bonner said.

"We have a lot of senior leadership," Bonner added. "Not even senior leadership, just leadership period. Each player has just taken responsibility so that made the year more fun. Even in the off-season, we didn't have that much trouble or anything. It's been real smooth. When we stepped on the court Saturday, it was great. Our practice went great, it was better than any year I have been here."

The Tigers reached the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, but have higher expectations with most of the key players back plus four newcomers in the mix plus the return of Boddie and 6-7 center Keke Carrier.

"We can be very good," she said. "We have a different strategy going right now. Coach Fortner and has got us playing a lot faster. Our speed is great, that's the best part of our game right now and we are just going to use that to our advantage and come up with some great wins this year."

Fortner said her goal for this year is to win the SEC title, but had no complaints about the preseason poll ranking the Tigers third.

"I think that the rankings are a fair assessment," she said. "Anytime you are picked to finish in the top four in this league is great. This is such a tough league and it's a huge privilege to be picked in that category.

"We look really good on paper, but we've got to get out on the floor and prove it and that is what we are working hard to do right now," said Fortner. "I like what we have and how our practices are going, but we just have to continue going down that road."

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