January 30, 2024
Baylor to retire Brittney Griner’s jersey number on Feb. 18
Retirement ceremony will take place at pregame
The Baylor Lady Bears women’s basketball program announced on Monday that they will retire the jersey number of Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner on Sunday, Feb. 18. The much-awaited event will take place in a pregame ceremony before the Lady Bears host the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Foster Pavilion.
“I’m honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started,” Griner said in a press release. “I’m grateful to Coach Nicki (Collen) and the entire Baylor community and am looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment. Sic ‘Em Bears.”
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Griner was a standout player for the Baylor Lady Bears from 2009-13 and is considered one of the most successful players in NCAA women’s basketball and program history. She scored 3,283 points, grabbed 1,305 rebounds, and blocked 748 shots in her collegiate career. Also, Griner was named two-time consensus National Player of the Year, three-time All-American, received four All-Big 12 First Team and All-Defensive Team selections, and four consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2010-13 including the Big-12 Freshman of the Year award in 2010.
Griner is the only player in NCAA women’s basketball history to have more than 2,000 points and more than 500 blocks in a career. She scored double figures in 146 of 148 games played for Baylor.
“We are excited to welcome Brittney back to Baylor and share this special day with her,” Baylor Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades said. “There’s no doubt she is one of the most decorated student-athletes in Baylor athletics history and we’re thrilled the timing has worked out for all of us to celebrate and honor her. She always has been, and always will be, a significant member of the Baylor Family.”
Griner was a remarkable player who played a crucial role in taking the Lady Bears to the 2012 National Championship with an unbeatable 40-0 record in the 2011-12 season. During her four years with the team, she was instrumental in achieving the Bears’ impressive 135-15 record, and helped secure two appearances in the Final Four, six Big 12 Conference Championships, and 40 consecutive regular season wins.
Griner had a successful four-year stint with Baylor, following which she was selected as the no. 1 overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA Draft. She’s played for the team for ten seasons, during which she achieved great success alongside Diana Taurasi, who is the league’s all-time leading scorer. Griner won the 2014 WNBA championship and was also named a nine-time WNBA All-Star. Moreover, she earned the distinction of being a two-time peak performer in points per game and an eight-time WNBA blocks leader. In 2021, she was honored by being selected as a member of the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary Team.
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In the exit interviews following the 2023 season, Griner confirmed that she would be returning to Phoenix for the upcoming WNBA season. After being detained in Russia for 10 months and missing the 2022 season, she played in 31 games for the Mercury, averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. Fans from the women’s basketball community, celebrities, and politicians celebrated her triumphant return home after being released through a high-prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia in Dec. 2022.
“We’re excited to have Brittney back on campus and honor her with the retirement of her jersey,” Baylor head coach Nicki Collen said. “I have been saying this since I arrived at Baylor that she deserves to have her jersey retired and I wanted to make sure that happened when the timing was right. With the opening of Foster Pavilion, and the WNBA offseason fitting into our season, this seemed like the right time to honor Brittney and welcome her back home. She is one of the best basketball players in Baylor’s history and we’re thrilled that the time has come to celebrate Brittney and all of her accomplishments.”
Griner will be the seventh player to have her jersey retired in Baylor women’s basketball program. The other six are Odyssey Sims, Melissa Jones, Nina Davis, Suzie Snider Eppers, Shelia Lambert and Sophia Young. Griner graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 2019.
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Griner will be participating in the Team USA women’s basketball training camp at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn from Feb. 2-4.
Written by Aya Abdeen
Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.