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PREP EXTRA

Taurasi Is Second to None

Prep basketball: High-scoring Chino Don Lugo senior earns Naismith Award as nation's top high school player.

March 23, 2000|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Diana Taurasi did not waste time serving notice that she would eventually become one of the top girls' basketball players in the nation.

In the third game of her freshman season at Chino Don Lugo, Taurasi grabbed a rebound in the final seconds, dribbled upcourt and made a three-point shot at the buzzer to send the game against Victor Valley into overtime. Taurasi finished with 51 points in the victory.

"I came in [as coach] the same year she did and I couldn't spell or pronounce her name," Don Lugo Coach Larry Webster said. "But that game against Victor Valley was the beginning of the Diana Taurasi era."

Taurasi's high school career ended with a defeat in the Southern Section I-A quarterfinals.

On Tuesday, she was named winner of the Naismith Award, presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the top high school players in the nation. Gerald Wallace of Childersberg High in Alabama was the boys' winner.

Lisa Leslie, who won the award her senior year at Inglewood Morningside in 1990, is the only other California girl to win the honor, established in 1987.

Taurasi was selected over finalists Ebony Hoffman of Harbor City Narbonne, Annie O'Neil of Cedar Rapids Kennedy (Iowa), Ashley Robinson of South Grand Prarie (Texas) and Erika Valek of Coronado Lubbock (Texas).

Taurasi, a 6-foot guard who will attend Connecticut, finished her career with 3,047 points, becoming the fifth California girl to score more than 3,000 points.

She averaged 27.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists during her four-year varsity career and scored 50 or more points four times, including 52 in this past season's opener against Moreno Valley. She scored 40 points or more 10 times and 30 points or more 21 times.

This season, Taurasi averaged 23.5 points.

Taurasi will be presented with the award April 8 at a banquet in Atlanta.

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