If there were ever any doubts about Tamara James not living up to her potential, then those doubts have now been erased.
James received Big East Rookie of the Week Honors on Jan. 13 for the fifth time this season, and has lead Miami to an 11-4 record. The freshman from Dania posted far-from-modest numbers of 28.5 points and eight rebounds per game during the week, helping the ‘Lady Canes to victories over Syracuse and Notre Dame.
James is currently ranked sixth in the nation in scoring, averaging 24.8 points on the season. Her five Big East Rookie of the Week notices are only two short of record-holder Rebecca Lobo, who earned seven while at the University of Connecticut during the 1991-92 season.
James is quick to point out that the accolades make her feel blessed as an individual, and that she would be happy to break Lobo’s record. But she says her immediate goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament with the help of the rest of the team.
“Our chemistry is great,” James said. “That’s where a lot of our success is coming from.”
During her time at South Broward High School, James led the team to state championships in both her junior and senior years. She was named MVP of the state tournament in 2001, and averaged 23 points per game in her junior season. She attributes much of her success to her hard-working parents.
“They have been my greatest role-models [growing up],” James said. “They always found a way to give us what we wanted.”
After mulling over a vast list of basketball powerhouses in Georgia, Florida, and across the country, James signed with UM in November of 2001. The 5-9 guard/forward said that the opportunity close to home heavily influenced her decision.
Basketball consumes most of Tamara’s physical energy, but when she’s not on the court, she prefers being mellow, partaking in light activities such as reading or listening to music.
James put up 20 points and had 21 rebounds in UM’s opener against South Florida in November, and followed that up with a season-high 36 points over Quinnipiac in the Wisconsin-Green Bay Tournament later in the month. She earned back-to-back Rookie of the Week Honors in late November and early December, posting an impressive 27.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game during that span. Tamara gives the staff a lot of credit for the team’s good record.
“The coaching [here] is great,” James said. “They stay on us and make us work hard.”
James has been the ‘Canes high-scorer in all but one game this season. She has also recorded five double-doubles, earning the latest one against Syracuse with 30 points and 10 rebounds. James was also selected to the All-Tournament Team at the Gatorade Holiday Classic in late December.
Tamara’s long-term goal is to join the WNBA after finishing her educational career at UM. But for now, she’s concentrating on the ‘Canes.
“I try to lead by example,” James said. “I play every game like it’s the last game.”
You can reach Melissa Teich at email@example.com.