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Lisa Leslie: Brittney Griner would have to bulk up to play in NBA

Brittney GrinerCould Brittney Griner play in the NBA? That has been a debated topic since Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said last week that he would consider taking the former Baylor star in the NBA draft, or at least giving her a shot to try out for the roster.

Lisa Leslie is one of the best women’s basketball players of all time. Even though playing in the NBA was never a goal for her, she wouldn’t want to discourage Griner from trying to play in the league.

“If that’s a goal of Brittney Griner, then she should follower her dreams,” Leslie told Larry Brown Sports in a phone interview on Tuesday. “But, if it’s not — because she didn’t ask for Mark Cuban to come out and say those things, he did that on his own — so if that’s not what she wants to do, that’s the purpose of the WNBA. [The WNBA is here] for her to come into a league that’s for women and for her to come in and completely try to dominate and take us to new heights.

“That’s where I see Brittney Griner living and doing a phenomenal job of being one of the best players that we’ve ever seen play the women’s game.”

The WNBA draft is on April 15 and the season begins in May. The NBA Draft is in June, which would present a scheduling conflict. Leslie says Griner has a choice to make, and she has advice for the 6-foot-8 center.

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Lisa Leslie on Louisville-UConn, Skylar Diggins’ future

Louisville looks to complete the rare sweep in winning a championship in both men’s and women’s basketball. They will have to beat UConn in order to do so, and that won’t be easy after the Huskies demolished Notre Dame in the Final Four on Sunday.

LBS spoke with Lisa Leslie, who is a board member for the Capital One Cup, on Tuesday to get her thoughts on the title game. We also asked her about the future of Skylar Diggins and more. The winner of the Louisville-UConn game will get 60 points toward winning the Capital One Cup. Right now Leslie is leaning toward picking UConn.

Louisville UConn“If I went with my gut feeling, I’d say UConn will win it,” said Leslie. “If I went with my heart and hopes, I would want Louisville to have a big upset. I think that would be a great story. I think it’s great for women’s basketball and men’s basketball that two teams from the same school could win a championship in the same year. And you always love the underdog. But I’m not hating on on UConn; I’m really happy about Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, two up-and-coming players.”

Leslie admitted seeing Louisville knock off Baylor and Tennessee and reach the championship game has been surprising, though, she was warned about them.

“I’ve been very surprised, but I have to add my husband did tell me about Louisville early in the season. He got a chance to watch them play, told me how tall they were, how active they were, and how their defensive pressure was a strong side. I wasn’t surprised by the time I got to the tournament and got to see them.

“My brackets were completely ruined [by the Cardinals]. I don’t know how many people other than Louisville fans picked Louisville to get to the finals. I was definitely surprised that they took Baylor out, but I thought their game plan was brilliant. To be physical, to really take it at Brittney Griner, that’s what you have to do.

“I’m just hoping that they will be able to force some turnovers for UConn and be effective with their defense. But it’s going to be a tough challenge because UConn’s in great shape. They’re used to handling pressure from guards, they’re very physical in post play, so I’m interested to see how they respond tonight.”

Which player does Leslie expect to have the biggest impact in the championship game?

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Lisa Leslie Stands by Stanford over UConn Pick for NCAA Women’s Final Four

Former three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie says she’s standing by her pick of Stanford to beat UConn in the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four this weekend. Leslie spoke to Larry Brown Sports on behalf of the Capital One Cup which will award $200,000 to fund graduate-level scholarships for college athletes. The current leaders are Cal and Auburn for women’s and men’s athletics respectively, and the winning women’s basketball program will receive 60 Capital One Cup points. Leslie told LBS she thinks it will be Stanford.

“I definitely think Stanford and UConn will get to the finals and face off,” Leslie said during our conversation Friday. “It will be just a great game because Stanford was the team that ended UConn’s winning streak. UConn has Maya Moore — the best player in the country, and both teams have great coaching staffs. It just couldn’t be a better story if those teams met and had a chance to fight it out on a neutral court. I’m going to stick with my pick because I’m not go change at this point. I like Stanford, I love the fact that they have the Ogwumike sisters who did a nice job guarding Maya Moore. They do a nice job on the boards, they really are a well-oiled machine, and defensively they are really smart and play players to their weaknesses.”

LBS asked Leslie about Maya Moore, whom she called “the best player in the country.” Many people have already put Moore in the class of elite players such as Sheryl Swoopes and Leslie, so I asked if Leslie thought that was fair.

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