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Autumn Johnson | December 27, 2020

Tara VanDerveer builds her ultimate Stanford women's basketball dream player

Tara VanDerveer builds her ultimate Stanford women's basketball dream player

In Tara VanDerveer's 35 seasons as a women's basketball head coach at Stanford, she's led the Cardinal to two NCAA championships and 13 Final Four appearances. And as of Dec. 15, 2020, VanDerveer is now the winningest coach in DI women's basketball history — which comes with coaching some of the most elite players that has ever played the game.  

NCAA.com tasked VanDerveer to create her ultimate Stanford women's basketball dream player, picking one player for 10 different categories. Here's her picks for each category, along with what she had to say about each player.

VANDERVEER'S HISTORIC WIN: Stanford coach passes Pat Summitt for most all-time wins

The Quarterback 

Sonja Henning

"[Sonja Henning] was a person who ran our offense really well," said VanDerveer. "Just a really intelligent player. Someone who was a two-way player, who worked hard at both ends of the court and a very unselfish player."

Sonja Henning, Guard (1987-91)

  • 1990 NCAA champion
  • 1991 Pac-10 Player of the Year 
  • Kodak All-American 

The Bucket-getter 

Kate Starbird

"Kate Starbird just loved to score. She had some great moves going to the basket," said VanDerveer. "She really never met a shot she didn't like. She knocked down 3s...she just was a natural scorer. When she came into Stanford, first thing she said to me was, 'Are you going to change my shot' and and I said not if it goes in, and I never had to change her shot." 

Kate Starbird, Guard (1993-97)

  • Four NCAA tournament appearances 
  • 1994-95 Pac-10 All-Freshman team 
  • 1995-96 Pac-10's Co-Player of the Year 
  • 1996 USBWA Women's National Player of the Year award 
  • 1996 WBCA Player of the Year 
  • 2,2215 career points 

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The Glue 

Nneka Ogwumike

"Nneka Ogwumike is just an outstanding person. Someone who cared about her teammates," VanDerveer said. "She was a great leader. Someone who our team loved playing with, very unselfish player, and someone who always cared about everyone all the time."

Nneka Ogwumike, Forward (2008-12)

  • Four NCAA Final Four appearances
  • 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner
  • 2012 All-America Teams of Associated Press (First Team) 
  • 2012 WBCA, USBWA and John R. Wooden Award 
  • 2012 Wade Trophy
  • 2012 MVP of Fresno Regional and Pac-12 Tournament
  • 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year 
  • All-Pac-12 Team and All-Defensive Team honorable mention
  • 2011 USA Gold medalist 
  • 2011 Most Outstanding Player at Pac-10 and Spokane Regional
  • 2008-09 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team 

The Dirty Worker

Chiney Ogwumike

"Chiney Ogwumike would get it done," said VanDerveer. "If there was a play that would need to be made whether it was rebounding or defense. She was someone who was always on the frontlines to battle. She was a warrior."   

Chiney Ogwumike, Forward (2010-14)

  • Three NCAA Final Four appearances 
  • 2014 consensus National Player of the Year Finalist (Wade Trophy, John R. Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy) 
  • 2013 and 2014 consensus All-American
  • Finished career as the Pac-12's all-time leading scorer (2,737 points) and rebounder (1,567 rebounds) 
  • 2013 Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year 
  • 2013 Pac-12 Tournament MVP
  • Pac-10 Freshman of the Year 

The Athletic Wonder

Kristin Folkl

"Kristin Folkl," said VanDerveer. "She was an All-American in both basketball and volleyball. Came in and the first day she could dunk. She's someone who is really, really talented" 

Kristin Folkl, Forward (1994-95, 97-98) 

  • Two-sport All-American (basketball and volleyball)
  • Appeared in six NCAA Final Fours (two in basketball and four in volleyball)
  • Won three national championships in volleyball

The Clutch Gene

Candace Wiggins

"If you needed a basket, if you needed a play made [Candace Wiggins] would make it," said VanDerveer. "Candace was a four-time All-American, two-way player... just a tremendous competitor. She always found a way for our team to win. She got big time steals, scored, ...there was just so many games that she was our clutch player." 

Candace Wiggins, Guard (2004-08)

  • 2008 Pac-10 Player of the Year
  • 2008 Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • 2008 Wade Trophy Player of the Year
  • 2008 Lowe's Senior Class Award winner
  • 2008 First Team WBCA and Kodak All-American
  • 2008, 2007 Wooden Award Finalist
  • 2007 Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • 2007 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year 
  • 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year
  • 2005 USBWA National Co-Freshman of the Year
  • 2005 Pac-10 Freshman and Player of the Year 
  • 2005 Pac-10 Tournament MVP 

The Lockdown Defender

Ros Gold-Onwude

"Ros would constantly look at the score to see how many points her player had gotten," said VanDerveer. "She had a forearm on people. She was a heavy defender, very aggressive, strong player loved to play defense and loved the idea of shutting people down." 

Ros Gold-Onwude, Guard (2005-10)

  • 2010 Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year 
  • Ended career at Stanford as the all-time leader in games played in program history
  • 2009 and 2010 Pac-10 All-Defensive Team honorable mention 

The Shooter 

Jennifer Azzi

"Jennifer Azzi was someone who really came in and started as a driver," said VanDerveer, "but she worked on her 3-point shot and then the 3-pointer came in. She could really knock down shots, and she practiced a lot. She was always in the gym. She always wanted me to rebound for her. She really improved a lot, but she's someone who is really dedicated."

Jennifer Azzi, Guard (1986-90)

  • 1990 NCAA Champion
  • 1990 Final Four MVP
  • Two Pac-10 titles
  • 1990, 1989 Kodak-All America First Team
  • 1990 Wade Trophy 
  • 1990 Naismith Award
  • 1990 Honda Sports Award winner
  • 1990, 1989 Pac-10 Player of the Year 
  • Three time All-Pac 10 First team selection

The Heart

Jayne Appel

"Jayne Appel loved playing at Stanford," said VanDerveer. "She was a great center for us. She had great hands and could score left and right. [Jayne] was just a great teammate, and someone that everyone depended on." 

Jayne Appel, Center (2006-2010)

  • 2010 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team
  • 2010 All-Pac-10 Team and Pac-10 All-Tournament Team
  • 2009 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team
  • 2009 Second-team All-America honors from the AP and ESPN.com
  • 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year 
  • 2009 All-Pac-10 First team
  • 2007 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year
  • 2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team

The IQ 

Katie Samuelson

"A really, really smart player," said VanDerveer. "She's someone that if the coaches forgot a drill, she would remember it. And she will be a coach one day." 

Karlie Samuelson, Guard (2008-2012)

  • 2017 WBCA All-America Honorable Mention
  • 2017 AP All-America Honorable Mention
  • 2017 All-Pac-12
  • 2017 WBCA All-Region

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