Catchings has shown glimpses of Holdsclaw-like ability.
Stats: 18.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 blocks, 2.5 steals, 53.8% field goals
It didn't take long for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt to make
an amazing discovery about one of her freshmen, Tamika
Catchings. Practice had just started last fall when Summitt
told Catchingswho, mind you, had come to Tennessee as one
of the country's
top few recruits"You're better than I thought you
And Catchings has only improved. In the team's first
exhibition, she led all scorers with 34 points and grabbed
10 rebounds. A regular starter all season, she averages
18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, second on the team only to
junior All-America Chamique
Holdsclaw, the player with whom Catchings is often compared.
"Her style reminds me a lot of Chamique's,"
After a January win over Arkansas in which Holdsclaw scored
28 and Catchings added 24, even Holdsclaw was impressed.
"When both of us are hitting," she said,
"it's awesome." Arkansas coach Gary Blair was in
awe, too. "We weren't close to guarding
Catchings," he said after Tennessee's 88-58 win. "She's
a great player and so is
Later that month, Catchings scored 35 points against DePaul
on 14-of-18 shooting, then pumped in 22 against Vanderbilt
to earn SEC Player of the Week honors. The only other UT
freshman ever to be so named? Holdsclaw, of
Despite the many similarities, Catchings is actually a
better outside shooter than Holdsclaw (she has made a team-high 40 three-pointers), and she led the Vols in free throw makes and attempts entering the regional final. Catchings was voted
SEC Freshman of the Year, following in Holdsclaw's path yet
For her part, Catchings dubs her sister, Tauja, a sophomore
forward at Illinois, "the best player in the
world." The two use e-mail to keep in close contact
and shared the court in December when Tennessee beat
Born 21 months apart, the Catchings sisters played together
at Stevenson High outside Chicago until 1995, when Tamika
moved to Texas with their mother, Wanda. Tauja stayed in
Chicago with their father, Harvey, who played 11 years in
Tamika, who had earned Miss Basketball honors in Illinois
as a sophomore, earned the Texas title in her senior year
at Duncanville. There, she once registered a
quintuple-double: 25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10
steals and 10 blocked shots.
Duncanville won the Texas 5A championship in 1997, finishing 40-0.
Thus, Catchings hasn't lost a game in two seasons. With the
way she's playing, the winning could stretch
"She only has two speeds," Summitt says.
Her career is progressing at the same
March 22: Jeff Sheppard, Kentucky
March 21: Khalid El-Amin, Connecticut
March 20: Andre Miller, Utah; Alisa Burras, Louisiana Tech
March 19: Brian Cardinal, Purdue
March 18: Tim Young, Stanford
March 17: Sarunas
Jasikevicius, Maryland; Adia Barnes, Arizona
March 16: Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State; Murriel Page, Florida
March 15: Jason Hart, Syracuse
March 14: Kris Johnson, UCLA
March 13: Lee Nailon, Texas Christian
March 12: Brian Earl, Princeton
March 11: Tyrone Weeks, Massachusetts
March 10: Brett Robisch, Oklahoma St.
March 9: Larry Hughes, Saint Louis