Brittney Griner and Baylor Lady Bears: Finished Business, or Only Just Begun?

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Brittney Griner and Baylor Lady Bears: Finished Business, or Only Just Begun?
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Last week’s NCAA Women’s Mile-High Final Four went much as expected.

Too tall, too athletic, too skilled, too darn many.

That formidable foursome finalized a 40-0 fandango and One Shining Moment for coach Kim Mulkey and her Baylor Lady Bears.

The champs had been briefly flustered by the Ogwumike sisters' brilliance and an “I Dare You” defensive strategy in their semifinal victory over Stanford.

And a gritty Notre Dame squad hung around for half of the championship game until young Ms. Griner decided to say, “Hall of Fame, here I come,” with a dominating post performance that was, among other things, beyond the skill set of about half the starting centers in today’s NBA.

Game, set, match—line ‘em up, coaches!

(Hope you didn’t miss the UConn-Notre Dame overtime gem by which the NCAA said “howdy” to Denver.)

Dark Clouds on the Horizon?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Of course, in the murky world of inter-collegiate athletics, no silver lining—not even in Baylor’s uncanny 2011-12 success—lacks a black cloud.

And the black cloud of NCAA investigation again storms Waco, TX, nearly a decade after one that involved a grisly murder and shameful coverup.

ESPN reports voluminous instances (over 1,000) of inappropriate contact with recruits, including—you just knew it—Brittney Griner.

The inappropriate contacts between the Griners and Baylor coaches occurred at AAU tournaments and a summer camp at the university.

Oh, did Abacus mention that one of Griner’s AAU teammates was Mackenzie Robertson, daughter of Kim Mulkey?

At what point does “want anything from Burger King?” or “care to get a bite at Denny’s after the last game?” stop being civil human interaction and start being a recruiting pitch?

If Mackenzie Robertson, in her very identity and character, is not Kim Mulkey’s most persuasive recruiting pitch, methinks a Grand Slam breakfast will be insufficient, eh?

The Content of a Character

Worthy of note is that Griner committed verbally to Baylor early in the process and never wavered.

Are de-commits so common that we’re surprised—perhaps even to the point of instinctive suspicion—when a kid chooses not to make a circus of the process?

According to the ESPN report, Brittney and her parents were interviewed by the NCAA about her recruitment in 2008, common practice for top recruits in those times. The Griners answered all questions completely and truthfully, acknowledging the “contact” violations.

Stop the world—what’s going on here?

Not only is this kid an iconic (and still evolving) basketball talent…

Not only has she shown a grace and dignity far beyond her years in the face of an onslaught of unadulterated vile filth…

She’s been raised to honor commitment and speak the truth by parents who practice what they preach.

“Blue Skies Smilin’ at Me”

This young lady is also a student of the game and eager to improve.

A 2011 summer spent under the auspices of USA basketball produced a player no team or coach in women’s ball could counteract.

What should we expect from the senior version of Brittney Griner on the heels of an Olympic experience?

Perhaps New Orleans will be hosting the same “Four”-gone conclusion a year from now.

Too tall, too athletic, too skilled and still too darn many.

80-0, right?

To a more deserving young lady, it couldn’t happen.

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