Griner won't attend McDonald's game
Brittney Griner, the most ballyhooed girls prep basketball player since Candace Parker, will not participate in the 2009 McDonald's All-American Game because she will not be allowed to take the time away from school, her father said.
Griner is the No. 1 player in the HoopGurlz 100 and the first girl selected to the McDonald's All-American Game who will not play. Tracy McGrady, who declined to play in the 1997 game, is the only player in 32 years to not participate after being selected for the boys' game.
However, the 6-foot-8 senior at Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas, will play in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Star Game in St. Louis on Sat., April 4, because it requires missing fewer days of school, according to her father, Raymond Griner.
The McDonald's committee received a letter from Watson Wright, the principal at Nimitz, saying he would not authorize an excessive absence by Griner. The McDonald's Game is a five-day commitment -- not including travel time -- including charity functions, practices, the Powerade Jam Fest and the game on April 1 in Miami. A call from ESPN HoopGurlz to Wright has not yet been returned.
"Something like this is a family-based decision," said Mike Keeney, director of public information for the Aldine Independent School District. "Our focus this week is on preparations hopefully for two games at the state championships. We'll have a whole month after that to deal with the rest."
Griner had a combined 50 points during victories over Dulles and Bellaire this past weekend, as Nimitz became the first girls' basketball team from the Aldine district to advance to the Texas 5A Final Four, to be held this weekend in Austin.
Nimitz is in the Aldine Independent School District. Kelsey Bone, another Houstonian selected to the game, did not have any problems being cleared to miss school and will attend the McDonald's All-American Game. Bone attends Dulles High School, which is in the Fort Bend Independent School District.
The Aldine district's Web site posted a story about Griner's participation in both the McDonald's and WBCA all-star games.
Two boys players from the Aldine district -- Jerald Brown from Aldine High School (1996) and Bobby Crawford from Eisenhower (1993) -- played in the McDonald's All-American Game.
Raymond Griner said he inquired about his daughter just playing in the McDonald's game, but said he was told that such an arrangement wouldn't be fair to the other 47 players.
Brittney Griner told ESPN HoopGurlz earlier this season that she would enter the McDonald's Slam Dunk Contest. No girl has been allowed to participate in that competition since Parker won it in 2004.
"It's disappointing. I know she was excited to be in the dunk contest," said Raymond Griner.
Griner will not be replaced in the McDonald's Game and will continue to be listed as an All-American selection.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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