Rebecca Lobo became the first UConn player to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last month. Former Huskies’ All-American point guard Jennifer Rizzotti appears to have the inside track to join her.
A source with knowledge of the voting process confirmed that Rizzotti was one of the 12 finalists for the Class of 2011. She was not, however, one of the six individuals voted for induction by the 36-member Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
“The Board takes its responsibility seriously and each year selects qualified candidates from a master list, which includes the greatest names in the history of the women’s game,’’ said a representative of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Directors, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA All-Star Ruthie Bolton and former WNBA and USA Basketball president Val Ackerman are among the inductees who will be announced during today’s WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Rizzotti, who is currently the head coach at Hartford and guided the U.S. to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship last month in Colorado Springs Colo., was nominated as a player.
A player must be retired from the highest level of play for at least five years in order to be inducted. A coach must have coached in the women’s game for at least 20 years.
Nominations are taken throughout the year, a source said. The Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which is headed by Sue Donohoe, narrows them down to 12 finalists. They are then voted on for induction at the annual Board of Directors meeting.
A source said Rizzotti will remain on the list for the Class of 2012.
Rizzotti is currently ranked 15th all-time in UConn history in scoring (1,540), second in assists (637) and steals (349) and seventh in made 3-pointers (207, tie). She helped lead the Huskies to their first national championship and first unbeaten season as a junior in 1994-95, generating a key steal and layup in the second half against Tennessee in the NCAA tournament final at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. The play landed Rizzotti on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Rizzotti, a two-time Kodak All-American, also helped UConn reach the Final Four in 1995-96. The Huskies were a combined 117-18 (.867) during her career.
She was named a first team All-American and the national Player of the Year by The Associated Press in 1995-96. She also received the Wade Trophy, the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award, which is given annually to the top player 5-foot-8 or shorter, and the Honda Award that season.
Rizzotti went on to play three seasons with the New England Blizzard (1996-98) of the now defunct American Basketball League and five seasons in the WNBA with the Houston Comets (1999, 2000) and the Cleveland Rockers (2001-03). She won the WNBA championship with the Comets in 1999 and 2000.