Pondexter named to women┤s U.S. squad

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Former Marshall High girl’s basketball star Cappie Pondexter has been named to the 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.

Pondexter, who is now a star with the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, is looking forward to competing in the Summer Olympics, which will take place in Beijing, China later this summer. “There’s been a lot of hard work and dedication put into this,” Pondexter said. “Finally seeing it coming to this is exciting for me. I’m ready to get started and represent the USA.”

Joining Pondexter on the U.S. team will be former Naperville Central star Candace Parker, herself a star in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks. The U.S. women will be vying for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold in Beijing August 9-23. Since women’s basketball was officially staged at the 1976 Olympics, the Americans have collected five gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal, while compiling a 42-3 (.933) overall record in seven Olympic appearances (the United States chose not to participate in the 1980 Olympic Games).

In addition to Pondexter and Parker, the U.S. team also features the likes of Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Seimone Augustus and Diana Taurasi. Pondexter and Taurasi played a key role in the USA’s Olympic qualifying berth at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship in Valdivia, Chile where only the winner earned the right to advance to Beijing. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Pondexter is a two-time WNBA All-Star selection.

She helped lead the Mercury to the WNBA Championship last season, earning the 2007 Finals MVP crown. She became just the ninth player in league history to record 500 or more points in each of her first two seasons, joining teammate Taurasi. Pondexter averaged 17.2 points (8th-WNBA) and four assists (10th-WNBA) per game in her second all-star campaign and tallied 20 or more points in 11 games.

In 2006, Pondexter was tabbed a member of the WNBA All Rookie Team and was runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting. She finished fourth in the league in scoring (19.5 ppg) and was just the third newcomer in WNBA history to break the 600-point mark (Cynthia Cooper, Seimone Augustus). Pondexter finished in the top 20 in scoring, three-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage and minutes played. She enjoyed similar success overseas in the off-season, leading Fenerbahce to the Turkish Cup for the second straight year.

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