Former UConn star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi was named the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, USA Basketball announced today. She helped lead the U.S. women to a fifth-straight Olympic gold medal and an undefeated exhibition schedule last year in winning the award for the third time (2006, 2010).
The USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year award has been awarded to an impressive list of athletes since it was first given 30 years ago, including current UConn freshman Breanna Stewart (2011) and former UConn star Tina Charles (2009).
“Twelve years ago I wore my first USA jersey, and the feeling of honor and excitement never diminishes,’’ Taurasi said. “I had the opportunity to learn from the best, play with the best and be coached by the best. This honor is very special because it is in recognition of everyone who has played for our county.”
Taurasi, a tri-captain of the U.S. Olympic team, started all eight Olympic wins and led the team in scoring (12.4). She also averaged 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists, shot 45.5 percent from the field and led the team in 3-point shooting percentage (.429) and free throw shooting percentage (.960).
Taurasi averaged 10.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 5-0 exhibition record with wins over China, Brazil, Great Britain, Croatia and Turkey in 2012.
“I think Diana was absolutely spectacular as a leader on and off the court,’’ UConn and 2009-12 USA Women’s National Team coach Geno Auriemma said. “I’m constantly amazed by her will to win, her drive and how much she makes everyone around her better. It was a great experience for me to get to coach her again. I enjoyed every minute of it. Winning the gold medal, and her playing such a big part in it, put a real exclamation point on the whole summer.”
Among all participants in the 2012 Olympics, Taurasi was ranked second in free throw percentage, tied for fifth in made 3-pointers (15), tied for ninth in 3-point percentage and 13th in scoring and assists.
Throughout her U.S. Olympic career, Taurasi is third in free throw percentage (.936), tied for third in career games (24), fifth in points scored (254) and assists (50), seventh in 3-point percentage (.396) and eighth in rebounds (70).
“USA Basketball is very proud to celebrate Diana’s accomplishments in 2012, and we are grateful for all that she has done as a part of USA Basketball,’’ USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO Jim Tooley said. “In capturing her third Olympic gold medal she was incredible to watch on the court, and she was an absolute leader as well. Diana is one of the reasons the USA Women’s National Team has maintained such excellence and captured five straight Olympic gold medals.’’