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Big 12 Announces Women’s Basketball Preseason Individual Honors
October 15, 2008
Courtney Paris (Oklahoma) was named Big 12 women’s basketball Preseason Player of the Year for the third consecutive season while Tanisha Smith (Texas A&M) was chosen Preseason Newcomer of the Year in a vote of the league’s head coaches. Whitney Hand (Oklahoma) and Tyra White (Texas A&M) tied for Preseason Freshman of the Year. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.

Paris is a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Last season she became the Big 12’s first three-time unanimous All-America First Team selection. The 6-4 center was third in the conference in scoring in 2007-08 with 18.6 points an outing and led the league and nation with 15.0 rebounds per game. She enters her senior campaign with 2,141 career points and 1,531 career rebounds. Paris needs 399 points to become the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer and already holds the top spot in career rebounds.

Smith, a 6-0 junior guard/forward, led Arkansas-Fort Smith to a third-place finish at the 2008 NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. The junior college All-American averaged 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while also pacing the Lady Lions with 104 steals and 71 three-pointers. Smith was a first team all-conference and all-region selection as well as the Region II regular season and tournament most valuable player.

Hand finished her prep career at Liberty Christian School as the second-leading scorer in Texas history with 3,649 points. The 6-1 guard averaged 25.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists as a senior while making 49 percent of her field goals. She led the state across all divisions with an 84.5 free throw percentage and 108 3-pointers made. The Fort Worth native helped Liberty Christian to consecutive state championships in 2007 and 2008. She was named a 2008 All-American by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

White was also voted preseason freshman of the year in 2007-08 before suffering a season-ending injury. The 6-0 redshirt freshman guard averaged 18.5 points and 10 rebounds as a high school senior. In addition she contributed four assists, three steals and three blocks per game. She was a McDonald’s High School All-American and the 2007 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year while at Kansas City’s (Mo.) Hickman Mills High School.

Joining Paris on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team are Shalee Lehning (Kansas State), Kelsey Griffin (Nebraska), Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State) and Takia Starks (Texas A&M). Each was a 2008 All-Big 12 first team selection.

Preseason Player of the Year
Courtney Paris, Oklahoma, C, 6-4, Sr, Piedmont, Calif./Piedmont

Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Tanisha Smith, Texas A&M, G/F, 6-0, Jr, Kansas City, Mo./Lincoln Prep/Arkansas/Arkansas-Fort Smith

Preseason Co-Freshmen of the Year
Whitney Hand, Oklahoma, G, 6-1, Fr, Fort Worth, Texas/Liberty Christian School
Tyra White, Texas A&M, G, 6-0, RSFr, Kansas City, Mo./Hickman Mills

Preseason All-Big 12 Team

Name School Pos Ht Cl-Exp PPG RPG Hometown/Previous School
Shalee Lehning Kansas State G 5-9 Sr-3L 11.3 7.6 Sublette, Kan./Sublette
Kelsey Griffin Nebraska F 6-2 Sr-3L 15.3 7.2 Eagle River, Alaska/Chugiak
Courtney Paris Oklahoma C 6-4 Sr-3L 18.6 15.0 Piedmont, Calif./Piedmont
Andrea Riley Oklahoma State G 5-5 Jr-2L 23.1 3.7 Dallas, Texas/Lincoln
Takia Starks Texas A&M G 5-8 Sr-3L 16.3 4.3 Houston, Texas/Westfield
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically by school)
Rachel Allison and Jessica Morrow (Baylor), Alison Lacey (Iowa State), Brittainey Raven (Texas) and Danielle Gant (Texas A&M)

Coaches not allowed to vote for own players.

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