In the Summer Issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2005/2006 school-year.
The criteria are as follows:
Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed Spirit of Stanford.
During the month of August, we will be releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one. Our first announced member of the The Bootleg's 2005-06 Honor Roll is women's basketball performer Candice Wiggins.
Tara VanDerveer says she is one of the fiercest competitors she has ever coached – and the woman has won two national titles and Olympic gold. Stanford women's basketball fans say she took her biggest weaknesses this past year – her outside shot and her halfcourt defense – and turned them into strengths to lead her team within seconds of the Final Four. (Admittedly, as the final seconds of the loss to LSU remind Cardinalmaniacs™ all too painfully, the turnovers still must improve).
Representing the great Class of 2008 with a quiet confidence and a loud smile, rising junior point guard Candice Wiggins has already firmly entrenched herself in the pantheon of greatest Stanford women's basketball players ever. (If it holds up, her current pace of 19.6 points per game is top in school history.) And did we mention she still has what should be her best two years ahead of her?
Let the numbers tell the tale. An incredible rate of 5.4 free throw attempts per game (and 83% accuracy from the line) highlights her aggressiveness. Three-point accuracy of .433, better than Men's National Player of the Year JJ Redick in any of his four seasons and 10 percent better than her freshman season speaks to Wiggins' outside presence, offensive versatility and work ethic. Five rebounds per game as a guard generously listed at 5'11.5" speaks to her strength and basketball instincts.
48% overall shooting speaks to her explosiveness and ability to blow by defenders to create easy shots. Her 32 minutes per game speak to her conditioning, determination and indispensability, while 21.8 points per game and 26 per game in the NCAA Tournament speak to her overall dominance and, like all great players, poise under pressure. An assist-to-turnover ratio of just 4:3 confirms she is human, but represents improvement over the 'sub-one' ratio of her freshman season. Plus, it is mighty hard to complain about turnovers when Wiggins singlehandedly forced as many (89) with her aggressive defensive style of play as she created on offense.
Wiggins, a two-time All-American and two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year, will have to deal with expectations she has never handled before as she will be surrounded by the best team of her career next season, one that should easily enter the regular season in the Top Five. But make no mistake, this is Candice's team.
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