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VCU Rams1

On this date in 2005, Quanitra Hollingsworth made her VCU debut in an exhibition win over Virginia Union. She was 16 years old.

On this date in 2005, Quanitra Hollingsworth made her VCU debut in an exhibition win over Virginia Union. She was 16 years old.

On this date 10 years ago, 16-year-old Quanitra Hollingsworth – the nation’s youngest college basketball player – made her VCU debut, scoring 15 points while grabbing eight rebounds in an 82-50 exhibition win over Virginia Union.

Hollingsworth’s debut kicked off one of the one of the more transcendent careers in VCU history and jump-started the VCU Women’s Basketball program. Hollingsworth, who turned 17 just prior to the official 2005-06 season-opener, averaged 14.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Rams. She was named CAA Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-America by Women’s Basketball News Service.

A native of Chesapeake, Virginia, Hollingsworth was a gifted student who skipped the fifth and sixth grades and graduated high school at 15. A 6-foot-4 center, Hollingsworth drew both interest and intrigue from college coaches. While her basketball skills were raw and age was a concern, Hollingsworth’s gifts were apparent. She was simply more athletic than nearly every post player she encountered. She enrolled at VCU at 15 and redshirted the 2004-05 season.

Hollingsworth’s VCU career culminated in the Rams’ first NCAA Tournament bid in 2008-09. She scored 1,604 points and grabbed 1,114 rebounds in four seasons and her jersey was retired prior to her final home game. Hollingsworth ranks third in school history in points, second in rebounds, third in blocked shots (162) and second in double-doubles (55). She was later selected No. 9 overall in the WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx.

Prior to Hollingsworth’s arrival, VCU had reached the postseason just once in program history. Since she helped the Rams to a WNIT bid in 2007-08, VCU has received six postseason berths.

In the years since, Hollingsworth has enjoyed a successful professional career in Europe and the WNBA. In 2012, she played for Turkey in the Olympic games in London.



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VCU Rams1

Quanitra Hollingsworth, who starred for VCU from 2005-2009, is averaging 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds for the the WNBA's Seattle Storm this season.

Quanitra Hollingsworth, who starred for VCU from 2005-2009, is averaging 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds for the the WNBA’s Seattle Storm this season.

VCU made waves in 2004 when it signed an unknown 15-year-old from Chesapeake, Virginia named Quanitra Hollingsworth. The 6-foot-5 center, who skipped two grades in middle school, made her debut for the Rams a year later as the nation’s youngest player. She became more than a fascination. Hollingsworth led VCU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009 and became the No. 9 overall pick of that year’s WNBA Draft. Her jersey is one of three retired by VCU. She’s won championships in Europe and played in the 2012 Olympics in London for Turkey. Hollingsworth is still just 26 years old.

This summer, following a one-year WNBA hiatus to fulfill commitments to the Turkish National Team, Hollingsworth returned to the WNBA with the Seattle Storm. She’s averaging 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds off the bench for the Storm this season, but Hollingsworth, who is fascinated by computers and cuisine, has always been about more than basketball.

We recently caught up with the 2009 VCU graduate.

CK: How’s it feel to be back in the WNBA?
QH: It’s good. I obviously haven’t played back at home in quite a few years, and to just be able to play in front of so many of my friends and family, it’s good because it’s definitely not something you get overseas.

CK: How does the game overseas compare with the WNBA?
QH: Over there game a little slower and more structured, probably less athletic with more shooters more fundamentals. Over here it’s more athletic. Everyone is the best of the best. Sometimes overseas you meet a team or some players that aren’t on the same level.

CK: There’s good money to be made overseas, compared to what most WNBA players make. I’m assuming coming back wasn’t really a question of economics.
QH: For me, I simply wanted to be back in America this summer. I play against most of these players overseas, so I can’t say I was missing the competition, but to be back home is important to me.

CK: How is Seattle treating you?
QH: I’m actually enjoying it. The only thing I was concerned about was the weather, but the weather has been beautiful.

CK: Between your Turkish National Team commitments, the WNBA and European ball, do you ever take a break?
QH: There’s no such thing as an offseason unless you decide not to play. I think as long as you’re taking care of your body, you’re fine. Mentally, it doesn’t get as exhausting as people expect because if you love this, it’s not going to be as draining.

CK: You played for Turkey in the 2012 Olympics. How would you characterize that experience?
QH: In some ways it was overwhelming, but it was like I was dreaming. You’re in the same place with all of the best athletes from every sport in the world. Even some of the best players never make it to the Olympics.




Isis Thorpe is VCU's highest-scoring freshman since Quanitra Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

Isis Thorpe is VCU’s highest-scoring freshman since Quanitra Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

VCU freshman guard Isis Thorpe has always been a bit of an independent spirit. In high school, she loved the piano sections of the K-Ci & JoJo hit “All My Life” so much she decided to take up piano. So she asked her mother for a keyboard and looked up tutorials on YouTube.

“I wanted to play the piano because I just wanted something new,” the Reading, Pa. native says. “I never wanted to be just a basketball player. I always wanted to do other things so I can say I’ve done something else.”

Thorpe later took a piano class as a high school senior, and while she still calls herself a beginner, she can play Christmas songs and some Beethoven, as well as some R&B standards.

Her basketball career has followed a similar plot line. A late-starter, the 5-foot-8 guard learned the game in her own independent way, but has proven to be a quick study. This season, she’s burst onto the scene to become the second-leading scorer for Coach Marlene Stollings’ upstart VCU Women’s Basketball team. Even among Stollings’ ready-made initial VCU recruiting class, Thorpe has managed to stand out.

Thorpe’s outstanding debut campaign isn’t just a nice surprise for the 18-6 Rams, it’s bordering on historic. Thorpe is averaging 12.9 points per game, the most by a VCU freshman since future WNBA pro Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 14.7 during the 2005-06 season, and the most by a true VCU freshman since Rochelle Luckett (12.8) in 1998-99. Hollingsworth eventually scored 1,604 points in a VCU uniform, which ranks third in school history. Luckett is fifth with 1,483. Thorpe also ranks fourth in the A-10 in 3-pointers per game (2.5). Her 60 triples are already the sixth-most in school single-season history.



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In case you missed it, Treveon Graham is going to be playing for the United States at the World University Games July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia. Only 12 players in the country can say that. It’s a big deal. The last Ram wear USA Basketball red, white and blue was Eric Maynor, who did so in 2007 at the Pan Am Games, after “The Dagger” and before his junior season. Graham will be the youngest player on this year’s squad.

VCU rising junior Treveon Graham, bottom right, wearing jersey No. 10.

VCU rising junior Treveon Graham, bottom right, wearing jersey No. 10.

Meanwhile, VCU Coach Shaka Smart has been serving as an assistant for the USA Basketball U19 squad in Prague.

More on that HERE.

The NBA free agency period began Monday at midnight. It sounds like Eric Maynor will be looking for a new team.

But don’t worry, he should have suitors.

Edit, more Maynor:



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Wrong A-B-C...whatever, close enough.

Wrong A-B-C…whatever, close enough.

June marks the conclusion of the college athletics calendar, and July’s arrival effectively signals the beginning of the 2013-14 season, at least for those of us in the biz, anyway. It all makes this week a good time to reflect back on the year that was in VCU Athletics.

A – is for Atlantic 10 Conference, in which, according to our slogan, the Rams were ‘all-in’. We were also all-in for another season of “Arrested Development” and Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches, so we’re having a good year. VCU competed in the A-10 for the first time in 2012-13, a move that has elevated the program’s national profile. The Rams’ first A-10 title came via the women’s tennis squad, followed by a men’s tennis crown days later. Meanwhile, several other sports (men’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer) reached the league’s championship final.

B – is for the Ball family, one of the driving forces behind the VCU Golf program. They’re like the Kennedy’s of VCU Golf, but with a better short game. Matt Ball may have just completed his 14th season with the Rams, but this one was surely different than the others. That’s because 40 percent of his starting lineup was occupied by sons Adam and Matt Jr. Son Adam, a freshman, led the Rams in scoring average (73.53) this year, while Matt Jr., a junior, placed seventh at the A-10 Championship and was named to the league’s All-Academic Team.

C – is for Courtney Conrad, the alliteratively named star of the women’s soccer team. Conrad led the Rams with 11 goals, including five game-winners, and received All-Mid-Atlantic by the NSCAA.

D – is for Daniels, Troy. If you are a fan of basketball players who score three points at a time (and the signed, obscure Mark Price picture in my dining room proves I am), then you would’ve enjoyed Daniels’ 2012-13 season. In 36 games, Daniels bombed a school-record 124 three-pointers, including games of 11, nine and eight.




Former Ram Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds for the New York Liberty in 2011.

Former Ram Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds for the New York Liberty in 2011.

Yes, Quanitra Hollingsworth will be returning to the WNBA this year, but she’s got some other business to tend to first.

The former VCU star and Olympian, currently playing with UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian PBL, says she gave her blessing to the April 15 trade which sent her rights from the New York Liberty to the Washington Mystics for a third round draft pick.

“I was made aware of the option of being traded,” the 24-year-old Hollingsworth wrote via email. “After communicating with [New York] and my agent, I felt this was the best decision for me given all circumstances.”

Hollingsworth, a three-year WNBA veteran, did not play in the league last season due to her commitment to the Turkish Olympic team. In 90 career WNBA games with the Minnesota Lynx and the Liberty, Hollingsworth has averaged 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. The ninth overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Lynx, Hollingsworth enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2011 after being acquired by New York. Hollingsworth served as a critical reserve for the Liberty that season, providing 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game.

Hollingsworth became a naturalized Turkish citizen last year and helped that country reach the Olympic quarterfinals in London last summer, averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. But Hollingsworth will return stateside this year.

“I did miss playing in the WNBA last year, and that was part of my decision to be traded,” she said. “I wanted an opportunity to be back playing on that stage as soon as possible.”

She plans to report to the Mystics, who finished 5-29 last season, in July, after she plays for Turkey in the European Championships June 15-30 in France. Turkey opens Group play June 15 against Ukraine.

Hollingsworth will play for Turkey in this summer's European Championships.

Hollingsworth will play for Turkey in this summer’s European Championships.

In the meantime, she’ll focus on European matters.

Her current UMMC squad is loaded with a roster that includes Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker and Sue Bird. Unsurprisingly, the team has already rolled to Russian Cup and Russian League Championships. Hollingsworth is averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, while shooting 61 percent from the field, this season for UMMC.

In early June, she’ll report to training camp with the Turkish National Team for European Championship preparations. Turkey has never won the bi-annual event, but captured a surprise silver medal in 2011. Combined with the country’s 4-2 mark in Olympic play last summer, Hollingsworth and the Turks could be primed for a breakthrough. Turkey is 13th in FIBA’s World Rankings, and second in fibaeurope.com’s April 22 Power Rankings of European teams.

“I am excited about the European Championships and what our team can do there. We have a strong team,” Hollingsworth, a Chesapeake, Va. native, said. “Last summer’s participation in the London Olympics granted us with much experience that we will take into this June’s competitions. With the addition of some younger players at training camp, we will have all that is necessary to accomplish our set goals for France!”

Hollingsworth made waves back in 2005, when she cracked VCU’s starting lineup at 16 years old. She went on to total more than 1,600 points, 1,100 rebounds and 55 double-doubles in four seasons for the Rams, and led VCU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009.


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Freshman Jessica Pellechio hit 9-of-18 three-pointers and poured in 30 points as VCU earned its first win of the High Octane era under Marlene Stollings

RICHMOND, Va. – So, this is High Octane.

After three games of starts, stops, spurts and sputters, VCU’s new look, dubbed “High Octane” by first-year Head Coach Marlene Stollings, clicked Tuesday night in a 79-55 rout of UMKC.

“I’m very proud of our young ladies,” Stollings said. “It’s not easy to go on the road to start the season, and this was well earned and well deserved to come back home and get an opportunity to show our fans for the first time with the new system and the new staff basically what we want to be about, which is getting up and down the floor and shooting three ball, which are two things we did very well tonight.”

You could argue Stollings was even being a bit modest. At the forefront of VCU’s shift into high gear was something she promised would be a High Octane staple, 3-point shooting. The Rams punished the Kangaroos’ zone to the tune of a school-record 13 three-pointers, including nine from freshman guard Jessica Pellechio, who finished with 30 points. Pellechio hit 9-of-18 from beyond the arc and was one 3-pointer short of tying the VCU record of 10, set by Meagan Evans in 2001.

“I struggled my first few shots,” Pellechio said. “Sometimes you’ve got to keep shooting as a shooter, but good shots, you never want to be off balance or [shooting] bad shots. We got it in and back out and set up my rhythm, and after a while you keep shooting and it falls.”



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Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting .452 from the field, in five Group A contests for Turkey.

Is Quanitra Hollingsworth the savior of Turkish women’s basketball?

Hollingsworth, a 2009 VCU graduate, scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the second half to lead Turkey to a 70-65 win over Croatia Sunday in Olympic women’s basketball action in London. The win served as Turkey’s final tune-up before the quarterfinal round.

Aided by Hollingsworth’s steady post presence, the Turks finished 4-1 in Group A and will meet Russia (2-3) Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the quarters. That game will be broadcast on the NBC Olympic Basketball Channel. The winner meets either France (5-0) or the Czech Republic (2-3) in Thursday’s semifinals.

Prior to the London Games, Turkey had never qualified for the Olympics in women’s basketball. Now, the Turks – and Hollingsworth – are just two wins away from a medal.

Hollingsworth, a Chesapeake, Va. native and recently naturalized Turkish citizen, averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in group play despite foul trouble.

The 6-foot-5 Hollingsworth is the second former VCU student-athlete to reach the quarterfinal round at these London Games. Hayley Moorwood, who played women’s soccer for the Rams in 2005, advanced to the quarters with her native New Zealand last week. New Zealand lost 2-0 to the United States to end Moorwood’s medal hopes.

Yann Bonato is the only former Ram known to have medaled in the Olympics. Bonato, who played men’s basketball at VCU during the 1990-91 season, earned a silver medal with France at the 2000 Sydney Games.


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Quanitra Hollingsworth, a 2009 VCU graduate, has averaged 9.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in two games – both victories – for Turkey at the Olympics.

Quanitra Hollingsworth’s Olympic experience is off to a great start, while Hayley Moorwood’s time in London has been met with heartbreak.

Hollingsworth, who is suiting up for the Turkish women’s basketball team in London, scored eight points and grabbed one rebound while battling foul trouble in a 61-57 win over the Czech Republic Monday morning.

The victory was a significant one. The Czechs were ranked No. 4 in FIBA’s World Rankings and the victory improved Turkey to 2-0 in Group A action. Turkey defeated Angola in its Olympic opener Saturday. The Turks may have punched their ticket to the quarterfinals with Monday’s win. At the last two Olympic Games, two victories was enough to earn a spot in the elimination round. Canada in 2000 was the last team with a 2-3 record in group play to fail to advance to the quarters.

So, although Hollingsworth has more fouls (9) than rebounds (5) so far, Turkey is in great shape. If she can stay out of foul trouble, the Turks can really make some noise.

Next up for Hollingsworth and Turkey is a contest the United States – the heavy gold medal favorites – Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. (EST). That game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus), as well as the NBC Olympic Basketball Channel.

Women’s Basketball: Group Standings

For Moorwood, the Olympics have not gone as well. In women’s soccer competition, Moorwood and New Zealand suffered their second 1-0 loss at these games Saturday, this time to Brazil. New Zealand battled favored Brazil for most of Saturday’s contest, only to fall on a goal scored in the 86th minute.

New Zealand is now 0-2 and likely out of contention for a quarterfinal spot. Moorwood and New Zealand will meet Cameroon Tuesday at 12:45 (EST) in what will likely be their final match in London.

Women’s Soccer: Group Standings


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Half a dozen VCU alumni have appeared in the Olympics over the years, including two this summer in London. Some of these student-athletes will be familiar to you, others may not, but all have been a part of history. Let’s meet them.

SAEED BASWEIDAN – YEMEN (1996 Summer Olympics – Atlanta)
Saeed Basweidan was just 19 when he ran the 800-meters for Yemen at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He was clocked at 1:49.35 and finished sixth in his heat. He did not advance to the finals.

A native of Mokala, Yemen, Basweidan transferred to VCU in 1997 from Florida Community College after winning three National Junior College Championships in the 800. He enjoyed a solid, if not spectacular middle distance career at VCU from 1997-99, qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1998, as well as the NCAA Indoor Championships in 1999. He was also a member of VCU’s NCAA-qualifying distance medley relay team in 1998. He still holds school records in the indoor 800 (1:49.33) and as a member of the distance medley and 4×800-meter relays.


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