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 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 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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