(Courtesy USA Basketball)
School: Connecticut, 2004
Hometown: Chino, Calif.
The youngest player on the 2004 USA squad after being named to the team on May 12, Diana Taurasi has plenty of international experience to offset her youth.
Taurasi joined the 2004 USA Senior Team less than 48 hours after winning her third NCAA title with the University of Connecticut. Following a single practice on April 8, against Japan on April 9 Taurasi was credited with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots in the USA's victory. In the trio of exhibition victories over Japan she averaged 9.0 ppg., 2.3 rpg. and 4.0 apg., impressing the coaching staff and USA Senior National Team Committee enough to be selected as a member of the ‘04 squad.
Taurasi got her international start as a member of the 2000 USA Basketball Women's Junior World Championship Qualifying Team that recorded a 5-0 record, earned the gold medal and received a berth in the 2001 Junior Worlds. She started all five games and averaged a team second best 12.6 ppg., a team high 4.6 apg. and added 4.2 rpg. Further, she recorded a team high 26 points versus Brazil in the USA's semifinal game and passed off for a team high of seven assists against Puerto Rico in the preliminary round.
In 2001 Taurasi was a member of the USA Junior World Championship Team that posted a 6-1 record and earned the bronze medal. After leading the United States in scoring, averaging 19.3 ppg., and passing off for a team high 2.7 apg., Taurasi was selected to the five-member 2001 All-FIBA Junior World Championship Team. Her efforts also earned Taurasi USA Basketball's Female Athlete of the Month honors for July 2001. Additionally, during the Junior Worlds, she led or tied the U.S. in scoring in four games, recording a game high 25 points in the USA's 92-88 semifinal loss to host and eventual gold medalist Czech Republic and a team high 23 points versus Australia in the USA's 77-72 bronze medal victory.
Prior to the Junior Worlds, Taurasi averaged 13.8 ppg. and 4.0 apg. in helping the U.S. women capture the USA Basketball International Invitational with a 4-0 record against Brazil, China and Japan.
The No. 1 pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury, Taurasi did not disappoint her new team. In her rookie debut she scored 22 points, and followed that with a 26-point outing and another 22-point game to average a league second best 23.3 ppg. to start the season.
Everybody's All-American, Taurasi became the fifth two-time winner of the Naismith Player of the Year award after earning honors in 2003 and 2004. A finalist for the 2002 Naismith and Honda awards, Taurasi also collected the Honda award in 2003 and 2004. Additionally, Taurasi was awarded the 2003 Wade Trophy, and named the 2003 Player of the Year by the Associated Press and U.S. Basketball Writers Association, while also receiving the ‘03 and ‘04 Nancy Lieberman-Cline National Point Guard of the Year awards.
A player who excels at crunch time, in leading UConn to a trio of NCAA titles, the 2001 Final Four, a pair of Big East Conference Tournament crowns and four Big East regular season championships, Taurasi has added even more hardware to her trophy case for her tourney play.
She collected 2003 and 2004 Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors after capturing her second and third straight titles, and was named the 2001, 2003 and 2004 NCAA Tournament Region MOP and in 2002 was an NCAA All-Regional selection.
A three-time All-Big East Tournament pick, as a freshman she became the league's first rookie to collect All-Big East Tournament MVP accolades after averaging 17.7 ppg. in leading UConn to the tournament crown.
Further, the 2003 and 2004 Big East Player of the Year is a three-time All-Big East first team (2002-04) and 2001 All-Rookie selection. Most recently she was named to the Big East Silver Anniversary Team, the only then-current student-athlete selected to the squad.
All-told, in her collegiate career Taurasi helped the Huskies to a 139-8 (.946) overall record, including an equally impressive 22-1 (.957) mark in NCAA tournament play.
She capped her career ranked third all-time among UConn career leaders in points (2,156), first in 3-pointers made (318) and assists (648) and sixth in blocked shots (144).
Taurasi attended Don Lugo High School (Calif.), where she was the recipient of the 2000 Cheryl Miller Award, presented by the Los Angeles Times to the best player in Southern California. Her high school accolades didn't stop there as she was named the 2000 Naismith and Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year. She capped her prep career ranked second to Miller in state history with 3,047 points.
Born on June 11, 1982, Taurasi hails from Chino, Calif., and majored in sociology at UConn.
She is the daughter of Mario, who was born in Italy and raised in Argentina, and Liliana, a native Argentinian, and has one sister, Jessika. There's a good chance she picked up her ball-handling skills from her father, who played professional soccer as a goalie.
Her family moved to Southern California before Dee was born, but she's fluent in Spanish thanks to her parents and when Taurasi was a member of the 2001 USA Junior National Team, she became the team's unofficial spokesperson when shopping or hanging out in Mar del Plata, Argentina.