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Paris Headlines AP All-America Team
November 09, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- After leading the nation in rebounds, sophomore Courtney Paris of Oklahoma led the voting for The Associated Press preseason All-America team.

The first NCAA women's player with 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in a season, Paris received 47 votes from the 50-member national media panel.

"That's pretty exciting," said a rarely understated Paris. "I am not sure how to respond to such an honor.  It motivates me to live up to expectations and to improve on the standards I set last season as a player and as part of my team at Oklahoma."

Joining Paris on the team were Tennessee's Candace Parker (45 votes), North Carolina's Ivory Latta (43), Stanford's Candice Wiggins (35) and Maryland's Crystal Langhorne (28).

The 6-foot-4 Paris - daughter of former NFL lineman Bubba Paris - broke a 21-year old NCAA record with her 539 rebounds last season.

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"I can't imagine in the modern era a kid that has impacted the game and is as hard to cover as she is," said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly, who's been a Division I coach for 19 years, including 11 with the Cyclones. "It's impossible to guard her."

Parker, the Southeastern Conference rookie of the year, is returning for her second season at Tennessee after winning a bronze medal with the U.S. national team at the world championships in Brazil.

"I learned a lot from the international game. I learned from the best players in the world, and they helped show me the tricks of the trade," said Parker, who became the youngest player on the national squad since Kara Walters played in 1994.

The experience of playing with the world's best was not lost on Parker's coach, Pat Summitt.

"She is more physical in the paint," Summitt said. "She had to be more aggressive and gained valuable experience playing with the WNBA players and learned volumes from them."

Paris, too, is still learning.

In her first college game, she played only 20 minutes, but scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. During the regular season, she averaged 21.4 points, led the nation in rebounding (15.1) and made over 61 percent of her shots. Last spring, she became the first freshman selected to the All-America first team.

Latta also made the first team, while Parker, Langhorne and Wiggins made the second team.

Now, Parker's excited to be part of the preseason All-America team.

"It's great to be on the team," she said. "They are a great group of girls, but there's only one girl that has the (championship) ring, and that is the ultimate goal."

That girl - Langhorne - led Maryland's improbable run to the national championship last season, averaging 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds. She shot a school-record 67 percent from the field to lead the nation.

"The greatest thing about Crystal is she's never satisfied. Every season she comes back and adds more to her game," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. "Obviously, she's a big reason for our success. She's a special talent as a player on the floor, and she's even more extraordinary in the things she does off the court. She really exemplifies what a student-athlete is all about."

Latta helped North Carolina to the ACC regular season and tournament title last season. The 5-6 point guard seems to know one speed: super fast. She averaged 18.4 points and 5.2 assists and 2.3 steals to help the Tar Heels reach the Final Four for the second time in school history.

Wiggins led Stanford to the final eight. The 5-11 guard averaged 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. This summer, the two-time Pac-10 Player of the year played less basketball to rest her feet after playing through plantar fasciitis last season.

Instead, she watched lots of games.

"Observing things made me mentally realize what I needed to change," Wiggins said. "It really helped."

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