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    SEC Women’s Basketball At Home In Olympic Games

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network


    Nell Fortner's Olympic Dream
    SEC Women's Basketball Officials Prevalent In Olympic Games
    Cartell's Chatter: SEC Player of the Year Equals Olympian

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It’s hard to think of women’s basketball in the Olympic Games and not immediately link it to the Southeastern Conference. The league that has long set the standard in the sport has greatly influenced the success of Team USA, which has captured six gold medals, including four consecutive.

    Since 1976, 25 former SEC women’s basketball players have made 39 Olympic appearances, including four on the 2012 team. Eighteen of the former SEC players who have become Olympians have earned at least one gold medal.  

    Former SEC standouts Seimone Augustus (LSU), Tamika Catchings (Tennessee), Sylvia Fowles (LSU) and Candace Parker (Tennessee) are on the current roster for the United States, which will vie for the gold medal on Saturday when it squares off with France.  

    Nell Fortner, who served as Team USA’s head coach for the 2000 Olympic Games and is a former head coach at Auburn, says it’s not surprising that the SEC has made its mark on the Olympics.

    “The SEC has the tendency to attract the best players in the country,” Fortner said. “It lends itself to a style of basketball that is very fast, physical and strong. Those are the kind of athletes you need to play in the Olympics. The SEC has been chocked full of great players over the years. It doesn’t surprise me that there are so many SEC players on the Olympic teams, it’s that way with all of the sports.”

    Fourteen times since 1987, the athlete who was named SEC Player of the Year in any given year, as voted on by the league’s coaches, has become an Olympian.

    Fortner is one of eight coaches with SEC ties to have coached in the Olympics; others include Van Chancellor, Sue Gunter and Pat Summitt.  

    “You have got to have coaches who are used to that kind of talent,” Fortner said. “Pat Summitt and Sue Gunter, who didn’t get the opportunity to go in 1980, are two of my idols and they both have been mentors for me. They’re just tremendous.”

    At least two SEC players have been on every U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team since 1976 with six league players making the Olympic roster in both 1992 and 2008. The same characteristics that make SEC players among the best in the nation are also the same ones that make them the best in the world.

    “I think there’s probably several characteristics that set the elite SEC players apart,” Fortner said. “One of the most important ones is just having an extreme competitiveness inside of them. They are just driven to a level of wanting to be great every day and when they get on the Olympic team, they’re all willing to do what it takes to win. The other thing that separates them from other great players, they’re willing to sacrifice their own stat lines for the good of the team and that’s why they win all the time.”

    SEC Women's Basketball Olympians
    Name School Olympic Years
    Seimone Augustus LSU 2008, 2012
    Ruthie Bolton Auburn 1996, 2000
    Cindy Brogdon Tennessee 1976
    Tamika Catchings Tennessee 2004, 2008, 2012
    Daedra Charles Tennessee 1992
    Teresa Edwards Georgia 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000
    Sylvia Fowles LSU 2008, 2012
    Jennifer Gillom Ole Miss 1988
    Bridgette Gordon Tennessee 1988
    Lea Henry Tennessee 1984
    Chamique Holdsclaw Tennessee 2000
    Tammy Jackson Florida 1992
    Shannon Johnson South Carolina 2004
    Carolyn Jones Auburn 1992
    Kara Lawson Tennessee 2008
    Katrina McClain Georgia 1988, 1992, 1996
    Nikki McCray Tennessee 1996, 2000
    Carla McGhee Tennessee 1996
    DeLisha Milton Florida 2000, 2008
    Cindy Noble Tennessee 2000, 2008
    Vickie Orr Auburn 1992
    Candace Parker Tennessee 2008, 2012
    Jill Rankin Tennessee 1980
    Patricia Roberts Tennessee 1976
    Holly Warlick Tennessee 1980