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Genia Miller Collects a Big Honor : Basketball: Senior center is first Titan women’s basketball player to be named All-American in 14 years.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Genia Miller became the first Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball player in 14 years to earn All-American honors when she was named to the Kodak All-American team Tuesday.

The team, which is selected by a panel of coaches and consists of the 10 best players in women’s college basketball, regardless of position, will be officially announced Thursday.

School officials were informed Tuesday that Miller had made the team, and Miller said Titan associate athletic director Leanne Grotke called her with the news. Not since former three-time All-American Nancy Dunkle (1975-77) has a Titan achieved All-American status.

Miller, a 6-foot-3 senior center who averaged 29.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots a game this season, will fly today to New Orleans, site of the NCAA Women’s Final Four, for a Thursday luncheon honoring the team.

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She’ll also be honored at a banquet Saturday and will attend the NCAA semifinal and championship games this weekend.

“I’m very happy--this is like a dream come true,” said Miller, a Crenshaw High School graduate. “When I was little and I’d see someone was an All-American, I’d think that person must be out of this world. But I still feel the same. I’m the same ol’ Genia.”

Miller was anxious ol’ Genia on Monday. She spent the day at her Los Angeles home, sitting by the phone, waiting for a call that never came.

“I thought I’d find out Monday,” Miller said. “The longer and longer it took, I thought my chances decreased of getting the award.”

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It won’t be the only award Miller receives this week. Titan Coach Maryalyce Jeremiah was informed that Miller also will be named a first-team All-American by the U.S. Basketball Writers Assn.

The other first-team selections are Virginia’s Dawn Staley, North Carolina State’s Andria Stinson, Louisiana State’s Dana Chapman and Arkansas’ Delmonica DeHorney.

Miller, who hopes to play professionally next season in Europe or Japan, used her outstanding leaping ability and a soft inside touch to become the Big West Conference’s most dominant player this season.

She earned conference player of the year honors, was named Sports Illustrated’s player of the week for March 4-10 and Windex NCAA player of the month for February.

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Miller finished the season as the nation’s second-leading Division I scorer and shot-blocker and seventh-leading rebounder. Her .601 field-goal percentage was 13th in the nation.

In leading the Titans to a 25-8 record and the second round of the NCAA tournament, Miller never scored fewer than 20 points in a game.

But she rarely scored 20 points in high school games. Miller, who transferred to Crenshaw from New Jersey midway through her junior year, was more of a role player as a senior, playing defense and scoring most of her points on offensive rebounds.

Jeremiah said she watched Miller play at least once a week during her senior year but never saw another college coach at her games. Only one other school, Oregon State, made a home visit to recruit Miller.

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When Miller arrived at Fullerton, her offensive skills were raw, but Jeremiah said she had great athletic ability and could play defense.

The Titan staff taught Miller how to play center, and by the middle of her freshman season, Miller became a starter. She averaged 7.1 points and 3.4 rebounds that season and earned conference freshman of the year honors.

Miller developed into Fullerton’s best player by her sophomore season, averaging 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds that year and 23.9 points and 12.1 rebounds as a junior.

She obliterated the school’s single-season record book this year, setting marks in eight categories, and she’ll leave Fullerton holding school career records in scoring (2,415 points), rebounding (1,162), blocked shots (428) and field goals (914).

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