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Feb. 27, 2012
Tamara James is one ace whose full achievements got lost in the big re-shuffle.
Her time equally split between the Big East and ACC, the former Miami Hurricane doesn't appear on the Top 25 career scoring lists of either conference. So she'll gladly settle for the notion -- ascertainable through NCAA records books -- that she was one of the best of her time anywhere.
The Hurricanes' 2012 ACC Legend led both conferences in scoring, doing so in her first league as a freshman and in both junior and senior campaigns in Miami's new and current home. Only the workings of realignment could keep this picture from complete clarity.
Consider for a moment if Miami had been in the ACC for all of James' career, which ran from 2002-06. Her total of 2,406 points would have been good for third in league history at the time of her final game and fourth now. (And, yes, it's OK to assume similar stats under various circumstances. In James' four seasons, 51 percent of ACC teams and 45 percent of Big East competitors earned NCAA Tournament bids.)
Nationwide, only two of James' direct contemporaries outscored her over that time frame: LSU's Seimone Augustus (2,702) and Sophia Young of Baylor (2,480). Entering this season, James stood 65th on the NCAA's career points chart out of the roughly 28,500 women who have played Division I ball since 1981-82.
The 5-foot-9 wing player led Miami to three postseason appearances, earned two first-team All-ACC citations and placed seventh nationally in scoring while earning honorable-mention All-American distinction as a senior. She's UM's all-time scoring champion for men's or women's basketball and is one of at least two celebrated people named James in the recent history of the sport in south Florida. (Some LeBron fellow plays for a paycheck in the region.)
Off the court, James is engaged to Dion Dowell, a former University of Houston standout now playing for a team in Jerusalem. The two met while playing professionally in Israel.
She recently gave birth to the couple's first child, Dion K. Dowell Jr., and intends to return to competition at the appropriate time. Her WNBA experience includes 52 games with the Washington Mystics in 2006 and 2007.
Her work includes a charitable foundation she created in her name in 2006. The organization conducts Thanksgiving food drives; runs events designed to heighten awareness of breast cancer screening; provides home landscaping services for senior citizens; and holds free basketball clinics in and around Broward County, Fla.
"(College basketball) is only a small lesson that is taught to prepare you for the real world," she said. "Get everything you can out of this experience because as hard as you think college is, it's a piece of cake compared to the real world."