With Baylor only one win away from completing a perfect 40-0 season, the Lady Bears, particularly their star 6'8 center Brittney Griner, have received an unprecedented amount of media attention.
Griner has been so dominant this year that the New York Times is now asking a question once considered unfathomable in the woman's ranks:
Still, Griner, a 6-foot-8 center, could make an additional $500,000 to $1.2 million playing professionally in Russia, Turkey or China, as a number of professionals do with dual careers. Commercial endorsements could also bring in $100,000 to $200,000, marketing experts said. It's not N.B.A. money, but it dwarfs the starting salary of the average college student entering the workplace.
The smart choice, many experts in professional basketball believe, is for Griner to leave college now. The sooner she starts earning money, the more she can earn in the long run. The risk of staying at Baylor is that Griner could be injured at any moment. And she would miss out on any marketing deals affiliated with the London Olympics. She is expected to be named to the United States national team shortly.
The biggest difference between her decision and that of Kentucky's Anthony Davis is that Griner would lower her profile if she played in the WNBA next season.
Women's college basketball has the built in advantage of huge fan-bases already primed to root for their schools which the WNBA does not. While Griner is risking injury by returning for her senior season, over the long haul, she would become a far bigger star, and greatly enhance her financial prospects, by going for an 80-0 run at Baylor ala Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton at UCLA.