On Monday April 3, junior Brittney Griner and the Baylor University Bears put the finishing touches on a perfect season, beating Notre Dame 80-61 in the women’s NCAA tournament final.
The win not only cemented the team’s place in history, but it also made it clear that Griner will be remembered as one of the most dominant centers in NCAA history and the most dominant athlete in her sport today. This year she was, hands down, the best player on one of the best teams of all time.
Griner led the team with 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in the NCAA title game, statistics that reflected her body of work throughout the season. During her junior campaign she averaged 23.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and over five blocks per game, while shooting 60 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Such statistics are the reason why she won virtually every major award this year, including the Naismith and James R. Wooden Awards, and she was named Associated Press Player of the Year. With her size and skills, Griner electrified stadiums this year with dunks and blocks comparable to her male counterparts. She has the potential to revolutionize her sport, something that few others in the realm of sports can relate to.
In every other major sport there are at least two athletes, and often several others, that can legitimately claim to be the best – with Griner it is not even close. Many casual fans cannot even name another women’s basketball player as dominant as Griner.
We are currently in an era with very few dominant athletes. Those that were once far and away the best in the field, such as Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer, have fallen back. This has allowed a class of younger athletes to rise up and to lay claim to the throne.
But, because of Griner, this parity is nonexistent in women’s NCAA basketball, which is why she is the most dominant athlete in sports today.