Basketball Big Time

West Virginian African-American Elite Women’s Basketball Players were Teammates at South Charleston High School

West Virginia is known for producing some of the best athletes in the country, including many talented women’s basketball players. Two of the most notable professional players from the state are Alexis Hornbuckle and Renee Montgomery.

Alexis Hornbuckle

Alexis Hornbuckle is a former high school McDonald’s All-American and standout player at the University of Tennessee, where she was a key member of the Lady Volunteers basketball team, winning National Championships in 2007 & 2008. Over her college career, Hornbuckle earned numerous honors, including All-SEC First Team, All-SEC Defensive Team, and SEC All-Tournament Team.

After college, Hornbuckle was selected fourth overall by the Detroit Shock in the 2008 WNBA Draft, where she played for several years and won WNBA Championships in 2008 and 2011. She has also played professionally overseas, competing in countries such as Russia, Turkey, and Israel.

Hornbuckle is known for her exceptional defensive skills, which have earned her the nickname “The Lockdown.” Her competitiveness, athleticism, and hard work have made her one of the best defensive players in the game, and she continues to be a dominant force in the professional ranks.

Hornbuckle is currently a respected mental health coach and certified personal trainer.

Renee Montgomery

Renee Montgomery is a former high school All-American (South Charleston High School) and standout player at UConn, where she was a dominant force on the court and one of the best players in the country, winning a National Championship in 2009. Over her college career, Montgomery earned numerous honors, including All-SEC First Team, SEC All-Freshman Team, and SEC All-Tournament Team.

After college, Montgomery was selected fourth overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2009 WNBA Draft; Montgomery stacked up two Championships while a Lynx and was the first player in history to win a national NCAA Championship the same year as winning a WNBA Championship. She left an undeniable mark on the franchise and won WNBA titles in 2015 and 2017. Montgomery announced her retirement from the WNBA and opted out of the 2020 WNBA season in protest of police brutality. Her activism led to multiple campaigns dedicated to human rights and inspired the WNBA to focus on social justice initiatives.

She is now vice president, part-owner, and investor of the Atlanta Dream, as well as one of three owners of the FCF Beasts Indoor Football Team, making her the first player in the WNBA to become an owner and executive of a team and the first female owner in the FCF.

Adding more firsts for Montgomery is being the first person to be inducted into UConn’s “Hall of Honor” while being a current player and holding the record for playing the most games in the university’s history.

West Virginia women’s basketball players’ success is a testament to their hard work, dedication, and competitiveness, and they continue to inspire many young players to pursue their dreams in basketball.

Up and coming

We got our eyes on Zaniah Zellous, George Washington High School, and Rayana Breckenridge, West Side Middle School, both successful on the court and in the classroom.

And in Logan

Alexis Hornbuckle and Renee Montgomery are two of the most notable professional basketball players from West Virginia, but they are not alone.

Notable African American West Virginia Women’s Basketball Standouts

Ashley Battle, UConn

Whitney Bays, Maryland/Purdue

Candace Brown, Gardner-Webb

Tiana Beatty, Charleston

Kisha Burns, Clark, Atlanta

Katelyn Byrd -WVU Tech

Taliah Cashwell, Wheeling

Dahza Congleton, Marshall/Glenville

Lynn Claytor, Sullivan

Jordyn Dawson, Akron

Denise Dennis, WVU Tech

Aaliyah Dunham, Xavier/Marshall

Shawnita Garland – Cleveland St

Dionna Gray, Kent State

Alex Gray, WVU Tech

Miki Glenn, Cal PA

Brittany Gordon, Pitt

Mychal Johnson, Notre Dame

Mychelle Johnson, Marshall/Middle Tennessee State

Anysa Jordan, WV State

Janaue Taylor, Sullivan

Keisha Tyler, Ohio

Lisa Lee, Charleston

Shay-Lee Kirby, Austin Peay/Youngstown

Ketara Lee – Marshall

Andriana Nazario, North Carolina A&T

Kiana Evans, Marshall

Natalyia Sayles, WV State

Shawntay Smith, South Alabama

Rhea Smith, Santa Fe

Makayla Smith, WV State

Rashaun Sayles, Okaloosa Walton

Kristen Staples, Eastern Michigan

Lavender Ward, North Country/Rio Grande

Talequia Hamilton, Cincinnati/Marshall

Tammy Wiggins – Marshall

Valetta “Wee Wee” Johnson, Norfolk State

ZZ Russell, WV State

This list is not exhaustive but is a start. It centers the Kanawha Valley but we welcome names from other regions and era’s across West Virginia.

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