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She's Done It Maya Way

One year from now, Maya Moore will be somewhere in Europe, most likely Russia or Turkey, playing professional basketball.

At that point, her career at UConn and her rookie season in the WNBA will be over. And the numbers she will have compiled in the process can then be fully analyzed and appreciated.

What's certain is they will impress, because they are already impressive, even before her senior season begins Sunday against Holy Cross.

"Watching her in practice, it's clear she is even better than she was over the last three seasons," coach Geno Auriemma said.

Already fourth among UConn career scorers with 2,168 points, Moore will pursue a fourth first-team All-America selection. She would be the first UConn player ever so honored.

"I don't really pay attention to that kind of stuff," Moore said. "Obviously, it is an honor to be respected and looked [upon] in that way in the basketball world, but it is just not something I am thinking about a whole lot."

She will have a much different vantage point -- a senior leader on a team with five freshmen who will look to her for direction and motivation.

"I don't think they are intimidated by her," junior Tiffany Hayes said. "I think they are inspired, more than anything. I hear them saying all the time, 'Oh, my gosh, she is so good, how does she do that?' I think it motivates them to want to be just like her. And being around her all the time will help them accomplish that."

Is Moore the greatest player in the history of UConn women's basketball? Perhaps.

"She's really, really good, Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "And I believe in my heart that she will show people that she's better than people even thought she was. She'll do more, but she's capable of it."

Is she a potential marketing icon who could someday peer out at us from the cover of cereal boxes? Why not?

"She would be a dream spokesperson for someone," ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said. "She's so talented, so personable. She has all the qualities a parent could want."

And how does Moore compare to the great UConn players who came before her?

Who does she remind you of when she plies her trade, on and off the court?

Well, glad you asked.

Scoring

Kerry Bascom

Comparably sized and uniquely gifted, Moore and Bascom might just be the two most natural scorers to play for the Huskies.

Had Bascom played more than 120 games, she likely would have approached 3,000 points (she scored 2,177). She's the only UConn player to average 20 points a season. and she did it three times.

Like Bascom, Moore is her team's go-to player, a versatile scorer with above-average perimeter range.

Rebounding

Jamelle Elliott

Neither Moore nor Elliott was designed to play the post, but both handled the role well.

The first national championship team depended on Elliott's tenacity and toughness, and when there was a carom to corral, she was more than happy to crash the glass, evidenced by the 1,054 rebounds she collected in 135 games.

Moore is much the same way, but an underrated rebounder because of her other skills. There will be times this season when she plays with four guards. She will be ready.

Intelligence

Rebecca Lobo

Lobo, an iconic pillar of Husky Nation and a former national player of the year, was a pretty smart cookie.

She was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors Academic Hall of Fame in 2008, joining Dr. Leigh Curl (1985) as the only UConn women's players so honored.

Lobo was a Rhodes scholar candidate and the 1995 Co-Academic All-American of the Year in 1995 in the University Division. She earned her liberal arts degree with a 3.7 GPA at UConn.

Moore graduated from Collins Hill High in Suwanee, Ga., with a 4.0 GPA, was a first-team Academic All-American in 2009 and 2010, and was the Big East's Academic Player of the Year in 2010.

Answering questions

Tamika Williams

Not all great players are gifted orators, especially when it comes to answering repetitive questions from the media after games and practices.

Williams was a member of the Fab Five Class of 1998-99, and like Moore was a high school player of the year.

Also like Moore, Williams was one of the best interviews to ever play in Storrs. Williams had a wonderful sense of humor, gave questions a lot of thought and usually answered them in an entertaining, informative way.

Moore, with a strong interest in the communications field, is an All-America interview as well, the media's money player.

National profile

Diana Taurasi

UConn has had its share of spotlight superstars, but it's hard to imagine any two that have captivated the national focus more than DT3 and Moore.

Both were focal points of fantastic championship teams, the type of player who is impossible to take your eyes off. If they were baseball players, no one would leave the stadium until after their final at-bat.

Moore's transition to the WNBA next season will be greeted with the same anticipation as Taurasi's with Phoenix in 2004. Moore will be embraced by the attention-starved league, immediately thrust to the center of its marketing machine.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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