Stanford grad and current USF women's basketball coach Jennifer Azzi has been nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as announced over the weekend. The Class of 2012 ballot marked the first time Azzi was eligible to be nominated for the Hall.
Azzi is one of two NCAA Division I women's basketball head coaches to be nominated this season. Teresa Weatherspoon, head coach at Louisiana Tech, is in her third season with the Lady Techsters.
In 2011, Azzi's collegiate and National Team coach, Stanford's Tara VanDerveer, was inducted into the Hall.
"This a tremendous honor to be considered into the same company as such outstanding men and women who have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame," said Azzi.
"We are thrilled for Coach Azzi," commented USF Athletic Director, Scott Sidwell. "Her basketball pedigree is second to none. She has done a great job with the program here at San Francisco and we wish her the best throughout the Hall of Fame process."
Azzi, one of the most prominent names in women's basketball, is entering her second year as the head coach of the USF women's team. The 2009 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee joined the Dons with a wealth of playing experience at the collegiate, international and professional levels.
Azzi holds an impressive playing resume that features successful tenures with the USA National Team, five seasons in the WNBA, a founding member of the American Basketball League (ABL), professional experience overseas and an All-American collegiate career at Stanford.
A four-year starter at Stanford from 1987-90, Azzi became the first Cardinal women's basketball player to earn the Wade Trophy, the James Naismith Player of the Year award, and the Honda-Broderick National Player of the Year honor. She was Stanford's first WBCA/Kodak All-American as a junior in 1989, and she earned the award a second time as a senior in 1990.
A three-time All-Pacific-10 performer and the 1990 Pac-10 Player of the Year, Azzi led the Cardinal to a pair of conference titles (1989, 1990) while being a catalyst for Stanford's first national championship in 1990, leading her squad to a 32-1 record as the squad's captain.
Upon her graduation from Stanford in 1990 with a B.A. in economics, Azzi embarked on a professional career that initially took her overseas before returning to compete once again on American soil. Azzi made successful stops abroad in Italy (1990-91), France (1991-93), and Sweden (1994-95).
In the American portion of her professional career, Azzi was one of the founding members of the American Basketball League. A three-time all-star, she played for the San Jose Lasers from 1996 to 1999. During that span, she was named the March of Dimes Female Athlete of the Year in 1996 and was awarded the Sport Image Award, with NFL great Jerry Rice, in 1996.
After the ABL folded in 1999, Azzi was drafted by the Detroit Shock in the first round, fifth overall pick, of the inaugural WNBA draft. During her four years in the league, she played for the Shock (1999), Utah Starzz (2000-03) and the San Antonio Silver Stars (2003). Each season, the guard led her respective teams in minutes played.
Internationally, Azzi was a member of the USA Basketball Senior National Team from 1990-91 and 1993-98. A key member of the United States gold medal-winning 1996 Olympic Team that concluded a perfect 60-0 season with an 8-0 record during the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Azzi played on 13 USA National Teams, compiling a mark of 114-14. She also medaled three times at the World Championships, claiming gold in 1998 and 1990, while earning a bronze in 1994.
Azzi is a member of several halls of Fame, including the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (2009), the Anderson County Hall of Fame (2009), the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (2007), the San Jose Sports Authority Hall of Fame (2006), the Knoxville Hall of Fame (1998), and the Oak Ridge High School Hall of Fame. In 1995, Azzi became the youngest inductee into the Stanford University Hall of Fame.
In addition to Azzi, the nominees for the Class of 2012 included Reggie Miller, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Jerry Krause, Vlade Divac, Dick Bavetta, Maurice Cheeks, Lefty Driesell, Bill Fitch, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Curt Gowdy (contributor category), Spence Haywood, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt (contributor), Billy Packer (contributor), Rick Pitino, Paul Silas (as a player), George Raveling (contributor), Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Gene Shue, Jim Valvano (contributor), Gary Williams, Paul Westphal (as a player), Jamall Wilkes, Rebecca Lobo (contributor), Katrina McClain, Weatherspoon, Ron Boone, Mack Calvin and Louis Dampier.
To become a finalist for the Hall, a candidate must receive seven of nine votes from a screening committee - five of seven for women - during a vote in late-January or early-February. Results are scheduled to be announced February 24, 2012 during All-Star weekend in Orlando. Candidates that make the cut will be judged by a separate committee in late-February or early-March and need at least 18 of 24 votes to be inducted. Inductees will be announced at the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans.