Griner's No. 42 jersey to be retired by Baylor

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Brittney Griner’s No. 42 jersey will be retired by Baylor when the Bears host Texas Tech on Feb. 18 at the recently opened Foster Pavilion in Waco, Texas.

The Phoenix Mercury star, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, twice led Baylor to the Final Four during her college career and had a perfect 40-0 national championship season as a junior. She is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist and won the 2014 WNBA title with the Mercury, for whom she has played 10 seasons.

Griner, who was born in Houston, played at Baylor from 2009 to 2013 and remains the NCAA career leader in blocked shots (748). She also had 3,283 points and 1,305 rebounds for Baylor and was recently passed by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark for the No. 4 spot on the NCAA’s women’s basketball career scoring list.

I’m honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started,” Griner said Monday in a statement. “I’m grateful to Coach Nicki [Collen] and the entire Baylor community and am looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment. Sic ’em Bears.”

Griner is one of Baylor’s all-time great athletes in any sport but had a strained relationship with former coach Kim Mulkey after she finished her college career. Mulkey said it was a requirement for a player to have graduated for her jersey to be retired.

Griner finished her degree in education at Baylor in 2019.

When Mulkey left the Bears in 2021 to take over at LSU, Collen took over at Baylor and said she wanted to get Griner’s number retired.

There was a hope that could happen during the 2021-22 college season, but Griner — who competed overseas in the WNBA’s offseason — was detained and imprisoned in Russia in February 2022 and not released until December of that year.

Griner returned to the WNBA in 2023. When Phoenix and Griner played at Dallas in June, Collen and the entire Baylor women’s basketball team came to the game, and Collen reiterated then that the program was working to honor Griner.

Her jersey will be the seventh retired by the Baylor women’s program. She will join two of her former teammates, Odyssey Sims and Melissa Jones, in that honor.

“I have been saying this since I arrived at Baylor that she deserves to have her jersey retired and I wanted to make sure that happened when the timing was right,” Collen said in a statement. “With the opening of Foster Pavilion, and the WNBA offseason fitting into our season, this seemed like the right time to honor Brittney and welcome her back home.

“She is one of the best basketball players in Baylor’s history, and we’re thrilled that the time has come to celebrate Brittney and all of her accomplishments.”

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