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Sherell Hobbs first met future Auburn University teammate and national college basketball player of the year finalist DeWanna Bonner way back in the seventh grade.

Bonner still may have the longest/thinnest legs in college basketball, but don’t let that fool you. The former Fairfield High School stand out has become one of the premier players in women’s basketball by using her athletic 6 foot 4 frame to her advantage.

She’s getting another chance to prove it in the NCAA Tournament. Monday at Rutgers’ Louis Brown Athletic Center.

Bonner is one of the prime reasons sixth ranked Auburn just won its first regular season championship in 20 years and, at 30 3, has the third fewest losses in Division I.

Her individual credentials are impressive.

She’s Auburn’s all time leading scorer, now with 2,145 points; and ranks No. 2 all time in rebounds, with 1,038. She is averaging 21 points and 8.5 rebounds a game in her senior season.

That’s how our story on DeWanna Bonner began in Saturday’s Birmingham News.

Bonner was voted the Southeastern Conference Most Valuable Player and is being talked about as a top five pick in the next WNBA draft.

And she’s doing it all on those spindly legs.

“I was kind of nervous coming in to college because that’s all I heard ‘You’re going to get knocked around, you’re going to get bopped around,’ ” Bonner recalled.

But she isn’t afraid to throw her weight around all 137 pounds of it because she’s constantly driving the lane and getting fouled. Her ability to score in close and pop a 3 pointer gives opponents fits. She says she’s gained 20 pounds since arriving at Auburn after spending time in the weight room.

“I used to lift weights two times a day and drink these shakes and all these things,” Bonner said.

The weights and shakes may have had some impact, but her size and ability are still a surprise.

“Watching DeWanna Bonner some times really makes me look back and just think, ‘Wow! How does she do that?’ ” said Auburn coach Nell Fortner. “You just don’t expect some one with her build to be capable of doing some of those things.”

Bonner has almost always stood taller than her teammates, but she grew up as a guard. Fortner scored a recruiting coup when she signed Bonner because Connecticut, Tennessee and Georgia wanted her, too. Bonner chose to stay closer to Fairfield, making life easier for Fortner.

Still, Bonner was hardly a finished product when she came to Auburn.

“She didn’t really have much more to her game other than being taller than everybody,” Fortner said.

But Bonner grew as a player, too.

She can drive, she can shoot from most anywhere, including 3s, and she can bring the ball up the court, if necessary.

“I guess I probably overuse the word ‘versatile’ for her, but I don’t know another word to describe her,” Fortner said. “She just has so many weapons in her pocket.”

Just this week she was named an All American by ESPN, but Fortner looks at Bonner as “the most under rated player in the country probably because people haven’t seen her play.”

Certainly the NCAA Tournament puts her on a bigger stage. Fortner, when asked this week what tournament fans should expect to see, offered this preview: “They have never seen a player of her build and her skill ever before. And they might not ever again.”

Bonner’s size intrigued Fortner from the beginning. It caught Hobbs’ attention, too. Hobbs figures Bonner was already 6 2 when she met her in the seventh grade.
timberland ladies boots sale and is now proving it in the NCAA Tournament