Point guard Ticha Penicheiro and center Ruth Riley Hunter crossed paths at the highest level in the 2006 WNBA Finals, and they are both still involved in basketball. Now, they'll enter the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame together this summer. They are in a class of seven who will be inducted into the hall in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 8.
Penicheiro played collegiately for Old Dominion, helping the Lady Monarchs to the 1997 NCAA final and winning the Wade Trophy in 1998. She spent 15 seasons in the WNBA; the bulk of that was her 12 years in Sacramento, where she won a WNBA championship in 2005. She is second all-time in WNBA career assists behind Sue Bird with 2,599. Penicheiro is now a player agent.
In 2006, Penicheiro's Monarchs faced Hunter's Detroit Shock in a WNBA Finals series that the Shock won in five games. Hunter also won the 2003 league championship with the Shock and was named WNBA Finals MVP that year. Collegiately, Hunter led Notre Dame to its first NCAA title in 2001 and was the most outstanding player of the Final Four that year. Hunter played 13 seasons in the WNBA, averaging 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots. She's now an analyst for the NBA's Miami Heat.
Kentucky alum Valerie Still will also enter the hall. The All-American led the Wildcats to the 1982 SEC regular-season and tournament championships. Still is Kentucky's all-time leading scorer (2,763 points) and rebounder (1,525). She later won two championships with the Columbus Quest of the short-lived ABL in 1997 and 1998.
The fourth player who'll be inducted is Carolyn Bush Roddy, a two-time NJCAA All-American at Hiwassee Junior College in Tennessee. She then transferred to Wayland Baptist in Texas and helped the Flying Queens win AAU national championships in 1974 and '75, leading the team in scoring and rebounding both seasons. Bush Roddy was a finalist for the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, and she also played for the Dallas Diamonds of the Women's Professional Basketball League.
The other three inductees for 2019 all go in as contributors: former CEO of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Beth Bass, former Tennessee women's athletic director Joan Cronan and ACC senior associate commissioner for women's basketball Nora Lynn Finch.
Bass was with the WBCA from 2001-14 and helped launch the organization's initiative to support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Cronan spent 29 years in charge of Tennessee's women's sports programs, elevating them to among the best in the nation, with the Lady Vols basketball team winning eight NCAA titles.
Finch, a former coach who then went into administration, was the inaugural chair of the NCAA women's basketball committee from 1981-88, and has served on multiple other NCAA committees, as well. She spent more than 30 years in athletic administration at NC State before moving to the ACC, and she will retire after this school year.
The Hall will give its annual Trailblazers award to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The AIAW launched in 1971 and was the governing body for collegiate women's sports until 1981, when the NCAA began that oversight. At its peak, the AIAW had nearly 1,000 member institutions.
The AIAW basketball tournament began in 1972 and was expanded to three divisions in 1975. The final AIAW Division I tournament was in 1982, the same year the NCAA held its first tournament. Some schools chose to participate for the last time in the AIAW event, including finalists Rutgers and Texas. The Scarlet Knights won that title.