March 20, 2004
Regardless of what happens to the Arizona women's basketball team in the NCAA tournament, one constant has grown out of this 2003-2004 campaign -- sophomore center Shawntinice Polk has emerged as a true and legitimate superstar!
Polk, or Polkey as she has come to be called, has put up numbers that are almost unfathomable during her first two years in an Arizona uniform. This week, for example, Polkey was named the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division I Player of the Month for February. This award does not honor the Pac-10 Player of the Month, or even the best player in the Southwest Region, but this award covers the entire nation! Any doubt that this honor means something is erased when one looks at the names of others who were nominated. Alana Beard (Duke's star guard) is widely considered to be one of the two best players in the nation, along with Diana Taurasi of UConn, Shereka Wright of Purdue, Chandi Jones of the University of Houston, and the list goes on and on.
This season alone, Polkey is averaging 16.4 ppg and 10.3 rpg and is averaging a double-double for her career. She has already been named to the Kodak/WBCA All-Region 8 Team, and is a second time first team All-Pac-10 honoree. In her career she already has amassed 37 double-doubles, 56 double-digit scoring games, 19 performances with 20 points or more, and an amazing 11 outings with 15 rebounds or more. She is already Arizona's career leader in blocked shots (157) and leads the Pac-10 in that category for the season. She is also the first Wildcat sophomore ever to top the 1,000-point mark. Her numbers are simply stunning.
Though one could go on and on about Polkey's statistics, it is her person that speaks most to what she means to the University of Arizona and to her teammates. Polkey is unselfish to a fault. She takes as much pride in watching other Wildcats succeed as she does in her own success. After Arizona's loss to Stanford in the Pac-10 Tournament championship game, team managers had to retrieve her All-Tournament Team trophy from a garbage bin. For Polkey, winning is all that matters. Unlike some star players who come across as moody and self-centered, Shawntinice Polk is well-liked by all who surround her and she puts a smile on the face of anyone she comes in contact with.
Polkey is not only a special player, but she is a special person. She is the future of Wildcat women's basketball, and Tucson is lucky to have her. Next season, take the time to visit McKale Center to see Polkey play. It will be worth your time and money. After all, Shawntinice Polk has emerged as a true and legitimate superstar!
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*All Arizona women's basketball games in the NCAA Tournament will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM!