Oak Ridge Basketball Greats

D.Ray Smith

Carolyn Krause brings us the story of two of Oak Ridge’s great basketball players. The Las Vegas Aces won the women’s national basketball final on Sunday, September 18, 2022 by a score of 78-71 over the Connecticut Sun. https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34619557/las-vegas-aces-win-their-first-wnba-title-beating-connecticut-sun-game-4-finals-chelsea- grey-appointed-mvp

ORHS basketball stars Nikki Caldwell (Fargas) and Jennifer Azzi are top executives for the Las Vegas Aces.

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Two of the best-known basketball players and coaches who learned how to play and win from Jill Prudden, a girls’ basketball coach at Oak Ridge High School for 31 years, are Jennifer Azzi (ORHS 1987 graduate) and Nikki Caldwell (ORHS graduate). in 1990) . The lives and careers of noted athletes and sports leaders are described on Wikipedia. In 2010, Prudden retired from her coaching career. Her accomplishments included an overall win-loss record of 908-161, three state championships, 25 district titles and 20 regional titles. She also wrote with Van Chancellor the 2005 book “Coaching Women’s Basketball Successfully.” Azzi and Caldwell helped Prudden’s ORHS team win championships. A year before Prudden retired, Azzi was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville. As a point guard on championship high school, college and professional basketball teams, she was honored for her many accomplishments.

Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis, left, speaks with Aces president Nikki Fargas before Game 4 of a WNBA basketball playoff final series against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

She played in the US women’s basketball championship at the 1996 Winter Olympics, making her an Olympic gold medalist. She played five seasons in the Women’s National Basketball Association. As a result of her performances with the Detroit Shock (1999), the Utah Starzz (2000-2002), and the San Antonio Silver Stars (2002-2003), she retired as the WNBA’s all-time leader in shooting percentage. three point field. She became the head coach of the University of San Francisco women’s basketball team in 2010 and retired in 2016. One of the original American Basketball League players, Azzi started for the San Jose Lasers and appeared in all three games of ABL stars. (1996, 1997, 1998). She played on 13 USA Basketball teams that compiled a 114-14 record and led two teams that finished the season as world champions. Azzi majored in economics at Stanford University in California and had numerous accomplishments in basketball as a scholarship athlete with the women’s team there. She was named an All-American point guard, she was recognized as the all-time three-point shooter and held the Stanford record for assists in a game, registering 16 against Brigham Young University in 1987-88. While at Stanford, her team compiled a 101-23 record and led the Cardinal to the 1990 NCAA Women’s Division Basketball National Championship in which Stanford defeated Auburn University. Additionally, as a star point guard for the Stanford Cardinal, she was awarded the 1990 Wade Trophy and named Naismith Player of the Year. The team she coached won two Pacific-10 championships in the 1988-1989 and 1989-1990 seasons, after which Azzi was named the PAC-10 Player of the Year. She was the youngest member of the Stanford Hall of Fame.

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