DALLAS (AP) — Brittney Griner could have added an Olympic medal to her NCAA title.
The Baylor star's chances of making the U.S. team for this summer's London Olympics were "pretty good" before she withdrew from consideration last month, U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said Monday. Griner cited an unspecified family illness and her summer school schedule, and later broke her right wrist in a longboard accident.
"She's kind of unique. There aren't very many players in America — or anywhere in the world, for that matter — that have that combination of skills that she has at that size," Auriemma said during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit. "Had she not taken herself out ... I would say her chances were pretty good."
The last spot on the 12-woman U.S. roster was later filled by Asjha Jones.
A 6-foot-8 center, Griner is a two-time All-American who was The Associated Press player of the year this past season when the undefeated Lady Bears won the national championship and became the first 40-win team in NCAA history. In her three seasons at Baylor, Griner has averaged 21.6 points and 8.6 rebounds with a Big 12-record 594 blocked shots. She is the first NCAA player with 2,000 career points and 500 blocked shots.
"What Brittney has done the last three years at Baylor is so spectacular she's made herself synonymous with college basketball right now," Auriemma said. "Brittney chose to take herself out of the pool and not remain eligible to be selected for the Olympic team, and that's unfortunate for Brittney. At the same time, this team is an incredible team that not enough people know about and not enough people have paid attention to while they've done what they've done."
The Americans are a strong favorite to win the gold. The Americans have won the past four gold medals, and have a 33-game Olympic win streak.
"It is unusual," Auriemma said of Griner's decision. "It's hard to put yourself in their shoes, but people have to make a decision on what's best for them at that point and time. Maybe they come to regret that decision, maybe not."
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