It's really no wonder at all as to why UConn Basketball star Breanna Stewart is nominated for Best Female Athlete at the 2014 ESPYs: She's currently the best player on the best college women's basketball team in the country. That's right, college. At just 19 years old (that means she was born in 1994), Stewart is nominated along with an Olympic gold medal skiier, a pro basketball player, and the most dominant UFC bantamweight champion...ever. Stewart, aptly described as "Kevin Durant-like" by Sports Illustrated, may be the new kid on the ESPY block but, in between classes and extracurriculars, she's earned her spot on the Best Female Athlete voting card.
If you don't follow college basketball, or if you're just looking to study up on a future athlete legend, you really need to know Breanna Stewart.
Stewart's most noteworthy skill as a basketball player already sized up to be one of the greatest ever, is her versatility. Her height makes her an obvious pick as a forward, but her skill in taking the ball up the court, beating defenders off the dribble, and shooting from the lane, the three-point line, and, oh yeah, dunking make her, "undeniably the most athletic swing player of her size the women's game has seen." Stewart accredits her versatility to her father's encouragement to work on dribbling drills around the block, even when her childhood coaches gave no thought to her potential as a guard.
She's a rising junior at the University of Connecticut
Stewart started strong in her Freshman year at UConn, scoring more than any Husky freshman ever in her first 10 games, and became the first freshman since 1987 to win the NCAA award for Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. But it was in her sophomore year, when the UConn women's team took home the NCAA National Championship, with Stewart leading them in scoring and blocks, that she truly started to get the recognition she deserved (hence the ESPY nom).
She's already scored a few accolades
In 2011, Stewart was only the second high school player ever to be selected for the USA Pan American team, contributing to her being named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year in 2011 and 2012. As one of only six women to ever receive the title twice, Stewart joined the ranks of players like Lisa Leslie, Cheryl Miller, and Diana Taurasi. Before she headed off to play for the Huskies, she also received a little award called the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year. NBD.
She can really dunk
Even though the ability to dunk is more of a fan favorite than a coach's favorite (associate head coach, Chris Dailey, teased Stewart, "It's amazing that someone can dunk and still miss as many free throws as she does")...it's still pretty cool.
Images: bre_stewart30/Instagram (3)