BY SPNW Staff 10:10AM 07/27/2012

State Links To London Olympics: Basketball

Four hoopsters with ties to the state, led by Storm stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, will be in this year’s Games.

Lauren Jackson (15) and Sue Bird (10) will represent Australia and the United States in the London Olympics. / Wiki Commons

Sportspress Northwest offers a series of biographical sketches of athletes with significant ties to the state of Washington in the Olympic Games.

Today’s focus: Basketball.

Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm is the most recent basketball player with connections to Washington to win an Olympic gold medal (2008). Washington will be represented by three basketball players in London.


AARON BAYNES / Washington State University

Aaron Baynes

BORN: Dec. 9, 1986, Gisborne, New Zealand. RESIDENCE: Melbourne, Australia. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Center. COUNTRY: Australia. OLYMPICS (1st): 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by Australia Basketball. STATE CONNECTION: Graduated from Washington State (2009).

After attending the Australian Institute of Sport in 2005, Baynes moved to North America and enrolled at Washington State. Baynes played from 2006-09 and was a two-year starter. He was second in scoring in 2008-09 (12.7 points per game) and tied for third in 2007-08 (10.4 ppg). He became the 30th player in WSU history to exceed 1,000 points for his career, finishing with 1,064.

A native of Cairns, Australia, the 6-foot-11 center also became the 11th Cougar to surpass 600 rebounds (653). He led the Cougars with 43 blocked shots as a senior to move into a seventh-place tie with Kyle Weaver with 93 career blocks. Baynes finished his career with the eighth-best field goal percentage all time (.546) and helped lead the Cougars to two NCAA Tournaments (2007 and 2008) and an NIT appearance (2009).

CAREER: Baynes launched his professional career in the autumn of 2009 with Lietuvos Rytas, a club from Vilnius in the Lithuanian league and Euroleague. In 2010-2011 he moved to the German Eurocup team EWE Baskets Oldenburg, and in 2011 signed with the Ikaros Kallitheas Basketball Club in Greece.

SUE BIRD / Seattle Storm

Sue Bird

BORN: Oct. 16, 1980, Syosset, NY. RESIDENCE: Syosset, NY. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Point guard. COUNTRY: USA. OLYMPICS (3): 2004, 2008, 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by USA Basketball. STATE CONNECTION: Member of the Seattle Storm (WNBA) since 2002.

Following a decorated career at the University of Connecticut, the Seattle Storm made Bird the No. 1 overall choice in the 2002 WNBA draft. Teaming with forward Lauren Jackson, Bird led the Storm to a pair of WNBA championships (2004, 2010). With that WNBA title and an Olympic gold medal in 2004, Bird became one of seven women to win an Olympic gold medal, a WNBA title and an NCAA Championship.

OLYMPICS: Bird is a three-time Olympian. She was part of gold medal-winning efforts in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing. She had an Olympic-high nine points against Mali in 2008 and an Olympic-high five assists against China in 2004.

STORM: Bird is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a five-time All-WNBA selection. During her Storm career, she has averaged 12.7 points, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Named to four consecutive All-WNBA first teams from 2002-05. Bird was a starter in WNBA All-Star Game in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006.

In 2011, WNBA fans voted Bird as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. In 2006, she was selected to the 10-member, WNBA All-Decade team. In 2003, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named Bird its Female Sports Star of the Year.

Bird scored a career-high 33 points Aug. 9, 2002 vs. Portland, had a career-high 14 assists July 21, 2006 vs. Minnesota, and had a career-high eight rebounds in a game six times. She made seven steals May 21, 2006 vs. the Los Angeles Sparks, a career high.

CONNECTICUT: At the University of Connecticut, Bird won three Nancy Liebermann awards, the Naismith Award (2002), Wade Trophy, the Honda Award and The Associated Press Player of the Year award. She made two All-America first teams. Named the Best Female College Athlete of the Year at the 10th annual ESPY Awards July 10, 2002.

PERSONAL: Bird missed two pre-Olympics exhibition games after returning to the U.S. following the death of her stepfather, Dennis. She returned Saturday to play against Croatia in Istanbul, a 109-55 win in which she played 19 minutes and eight points and five assists. “It’s been emotional,” she told reporters, fighting back tears. “Obviously he wasn’t my father, but has been in my life for 16 years. He meant so much to my mom.  These things are tough. It’s good to be back, everyone’s been so great. In a way, even though I’m not with my biological family, this is an extension. They make me laugh and I don’t have to think about anything else so it’s really nice.” Bird holds a degree in communications science from the University of Connecticut . . . Wears number 10 because she and sister Jennifer were both born in October . . .. She is interested in a career in broadcasting after her playing days . . . Enjoys music (Dave Matthews Band) . . . Has also played professionally in Russia and Turkey.

KIM BUTLER / Bellarmine Prep

Kim Butler

BORN: Sept. 7, 1982, Tacoma. RESIDENCE: London. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Forward. COUNTRY: Great Britain, OLYMPICS (1): 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by British Basketball. STATE CONNECTION: Graduate of Bellarmine Prep.

A collegiate standout at Oregon State (2004-06), Butler will be part of a British team making its first Olympic appearance. Butler was a two-year starter for the Beavers after transferring from Santa Clara University following her sophomore season. As a junior in 2004-05 she was OSU’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 10.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.

During the 2005-06 season, Butler earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention after finishing second in scoring (18.2 ppg) and free-throw shooting .769 (143 for 186). Butler’s 576 points her senior year are the second-highest total for any OSU player of the last 16 years. Felicia Ragland had 638 points in 2001-02.

CAREER: Butler joined the British national team in the summer of 2007. She has averaged more than 10 points and five rebounds per game in her international career and was part of the team that won promotion into European Division A when she scored a career-best 28 points in a victory over Ukraine in 2008. At EuroBasket Women 2011, she poured in 15 points as Great Britain came within seconds of upsetting eventual champion and world No. 2 Russia.

PERSONAL: Kim’s sister Julie also played basketball at Santa Clara. Growing up, Kim competed in athletics, primarily in shot put and 400 metres. She lists former USA basketball international Tim Duncan and cyclist Lance Armstrong as her sporting idols . . . In high school, Kim was named an All-State soccer player before accepting a basketball scholarship at Santa Clara University.

LAUREN JACKSON / Seattle Storm

Lauren Jackson

BORN: May 11, 1981, Albury, New South Wales, Australia. RESIDENCE: Canberra, Australia. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Forward. COUNTRY: Australia. OLYMPICS (4): 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by Australian Olympic Committee. STATE CONNECTION: Member of the Seattle Storm (WNBA) since 2001.

OLYMPICS: Jackson is captain of the Opals, Australia’s national team, and is a three-time silver medalist in the Olympics. She was chosen this week to carry her nation’s flag in the Opening Ceremony Friday.”I could never have imagined being honored like this,” she told rerporters in London. She skipped the first half of the WNBA season to train with the national team in order to finally get the Olympic gold away from the U.S.

STORM: The leading scorer in franchise history, Jackson is a three-time, regular-season MVP winner (2003, 2007, 2010), a WNBA Finals MVP (2010), a five-time All-Star, the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2007), a three-time league scoring champion (2003, 2004, 2007) and a member of the WNBA’s All-Decade Team (2006). In 2011, along with teammate Sue Bird, she was voted one of the top 15 players in league history.

Jackson has been instrumental in helping the Storm win two WNBA championships (2004, 2010). She averaged a team-high 19.6 points per game for the 2004 champions and 21.6 ppg for the 2010 champions. For her WNBA career, Jackson has averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals.

Jackson, the youngest player in league history to score 3,000 points and 4,000 points, ranks in the top five in WNBA history in games, minutes, points, field goals, free throws, rebounds and blocks. Jackson shares the WNBA record for most points in a game, 47 vs. Washington July 24, 2007

PERSONAL: Father Gary and mother Maree both played for Australian national basketball teams . . . When at home in Australia, enjoys surfing and spending time at the beach . . . Posed nude in an Australian magazine, Black+White, that featured Olympic athletes competine in Athens in the 2004 Summer Olympics . . . Posed for the 2005 edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue . . . Jackson has also played professionally in Russia, Korea and Spain.


GOLD: Ralph Bishop (UW), 1936 Berlin; John Stockton (Spokane), 1992 Barcelona; Stockton, 1996 Atlanta; Gary Payton (Sonics), 1996 Atlanta; Payton, 2000 Sydney; Sue Bird (Storm), 2004 Athens; Bird, 2008 Beijing. SILVER: Lauren Jackson (Storm), 2000 Sydney; Jackson, 2004 Athens; Jackson, 2008 Beijing. BRONZE: None.

Olympic Qualifiers

The following athletes with connections to the state  have qualified (or been selected) to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games July 27-Aug. 12.

Athlete Sport Gms. # Country State Connection
Nathan Adrian Swimming 2 USA Bremerton native
Scott Baynes Basketball 1 Australia WSU grad
Sue Bird Basketball 3 USA Seattle Storm guard
Kim Butler Basketball 1 G. Britain Bellarmine Prep
Dave Calder Rowing 4 Canada University of Washington
Will Crothers Rowing 1 Canada University of Washington
Tyler Farrar Cycling 1 USA Wenatchee native
Amanda Furrer Shooting 1 USA Mead High, Spokane
Scott Gault Rowing 2 USA University of Washington
Rob Gibson Rowing 1 Canada University of Washington
Lauren Jackson Basketball 4 Australia Seattle Storm forward
Anthony Jacob Rowing 1 Canada University of Washington
Ebba Jungmark Track 2 Sweden WSU grad
Seth Kelsey Fencing 3 Canada Brush Prairie
Ariana Kukors Swimming 1 USA Auburn Mountainview
Meagan Kalmoe Rowing 2 USA University of Washington
Bernard Lagat Track 4 USA Washington State University
Giuseppe Lanzone Rowing 2 USA University of Washington
Amy LePeilbet Soccer 1 USA Spokane native
Adrienne Lyle Equestrian 1 USA University of Washington
Adrienne Martelli Rowing 1 USA University of Washington
Arielle Martin Cycling 1 USA Spanaway native
Conlin McCabe Rowing 1 Canada University of Washington
Tamari Miyashiro Volleyball 1 USA University of Washington
Haley Nemra Track 2 Marshall Is. Marys.-Pilchuck
Brett Newlin Rowing 2 USA University of Washington
Kara Patterson Track 2 USA Seattle native
Jennie Reed Cycling 3 USA Seattle native
Jarred Rome Track 2 USA Marys. -Pilchuck
Janine Sandell Volleyball 1 Great Britain University of Washington
Hope Solo Soccer 2 USA University of Washington
Travis Stevens Judo 2 USA Bellevue native
Courtney Thompson Volleyball 1 USA University of Washington
Aretha Franklin Track 4 USA University of Washington
Queen Underwood Boxing 1 USA Seattle resident
Eric Uptagrafft Shooting 1 USA Spokane resident
Tejay van Garderen Cycling 1 USA Tacoma native
Brad Walker Track 2 USA University of Washington
Mary Whipple Rowing 3 USA University of Washington


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