Apparently not satisfied enough with their previous 6’8 dunking female center, the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls have taken things up a notch, signing not only the world’s greatest women’s dunker, but possibly its most dominant as well.
In an official announcement posted to the team’s website today, the Golden Bulls have signed Brittney Griner for the 2013-14 season. She will replace Australian center Liz Cambage, who helped lead the team to a Women’s Chinese Basketball Association Finals appearance before they ultimately lost to Maya Moore and the Shanxi Xingrui Flame.
Griner, who finished out her stand-out four-year collegiate career at Baylor in March, was recently selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury.
According to the official post, the team’s desire to get over the championship hump was the main reasoning behind signing Griner. From the website:
“In order to move forward in strengthening our team and to obtain even greater results for next season, the club started the off-season process to find a foreign player extremely early. After a period of communication and negotiation, we can officially announce as of today that we have signed American women’s superstar, Brittney Griner.”
The 22 year-old Griner, who became a household basketball name during her four-year career at Baylor for her team and individual success, as well as her long highlight reel of in-game dunks, is certainly a superstar. A three-time All-American, she is the only player in women’s college basketball history to have 2,000 points and 500 blocks in a career. She also holds the records for most career blocks, man or woman, with 736. Her Baylor team in 2011-12 finished with a perfect 40-0 record en route to a NCAA championship, the most wins ever for a single season.
Though next season will mark her fist in the Chinese league, Griner will see plenty of familiar foreign faces when she gets on the court. Like it’s male counterpart, the CBA, which has been handing out increasingly high salaries in order to attract top-level foreign players, the WCBA has also seen its fair share of investment over the last several seasons. Beyond Moore and Cambage, Tamika Catchings, Swin Cash and a host of other world-class women’s players have also signed on to play professionally in China.
Griner’s addition to the Bulls in China will likely cool speculation over the chances of a career in the NBA, a topic that was started after Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, said he would be open towards inviting her for a try-out this upcoming summer. And that’s not opinion, that’s fact: Though the WCBA schedule isn’t typically announced until weeks before the start of the regular season, the league generally runs from October to February, which conflicts directly with the schedule of the NBA.
With Moore heading back to Shanxi next season, the two players, arguably the two best in the world, appear on an early collision course for a Chinese championship next season — good news for not only WCBA fans, but for fans of basketball in general, who tuned into nationally broadcasted games at record numbers last season to watch Moore and Cambage battle in the finals last season. Considering Griner’s excellence, its not unlikely that we’ll be seeing a Moore-Griner match-up in the finals next season.