LC grad January savors WNBA title

Briann January, a Spokane native and Lewis and Clark graduate, helped Indiana win the WNBA title. (Associated Press)
Briann January, a Spokane native and Lewis and Clark graduate, helped Indiana win the WNBA title. (Associated Press)

Briann January isn’t at Disneyland – and she won’t be any time in the near future.

But who needs the happiest place on Earth when you’ve just made a lifelong dream come true?

January is spending time in New York with friends before she hops the pond to play professional basketball in Europe – a common practice for WNBA players. The Spokane native and Lewis and Clark High graduate was still giddy on Thursday during a phone interview in regard to helping the Indiana Fever pull off an upset over the heavily-favored Minnesota Lynx last week for the WNBA championship.

January, a 2005 graduate of LC, was a first-team all-state basketball player, a state champion high jumper for the Tigers’ track and field team, and went on to a standout college basketball career at Arizona State.

But if there are two things she would have loved to achieve – and she came close to doing so – it would be a state basketball title and an NCAA title. So she couldn’t have been more pleased with what the Fever achieved this season.

“It means the world – I have literally been dreaming since, you know, I knew there was a WNBA,” January said.

“It was surreal,” she added. “It’s still sinking in that I was part of a world championship team, you know? It’s still just pretty unreal. And at that moment, when the final buzzer went off, it was a feeling like no other.”

And at 25 years old, January knows it’s nowhere near close to all downhill from here.

“It’s nice to win one, but it’s better to win two,” January said with a laugh. “I’m greedy like that.

“As long as I’m still playing, that’s the goal.”

In the first two games of the WNBA Finals, Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus recorded 23 and 27 points, respectively, but the 5-foot-8 January was picked to guard her after that, and the reigning MVP of the finals was a combined 6 for 30 with 14 points as the Fever won the series 4-1.

“(Coach) made the switch-up after Game 2, when we lost up there, we’re going to put Bri on Seimone,” Fever forward Tamika Catchings, an Olympic gold medalist and one of the WNBA’s most notable players, told

“I know everybody was like, ‘OK, Bri is a little bit shorter than (6-foot) Seimone, but first-team all-WNBA defensive team right there.’ We’ve got confidence in her, and she came, and really I think just set the tone straight from the beginning. They could not get her the ball.”

And it’s amazing to think that just a season ago, nobody could get January the ball. She wasn’t even on the court for most of the season as she was rehabbing a torn ACL.

“First of all, not a lot of people thought we were going to win,” January said.

“People were predicting we would either be swept or lose in four.

“Winning something like this, a title, it’s been a long time coming for me, and with the injury last year I didn’t know how strong I’d come back. But I had the best support, and everything – from the beginning when I played in Spokane – has paid off. It’s all been worth it for that one moment.”

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