A second-team All-Big Ten selection for the second straight season. Honorable mention All-America. Named to the 1999 Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Scored a career-high 26 points on 11-16 shooting in Big Ten Tournament final against No. 1 Purdue, nearly leading UI to an upset. Hit a last-second shot to propel the Illini past Penn State, 77-75, in Big Ten Tournament semifinals, scoring 19 points and nine boards in the game. Registered 11 points and nine rebounds in Illinois NCAA tournament win versus Louisville, including a last-second lay-in in 69-67 win. Scored eight points to go along with eight rebounds in NCAA Tournament loss at Clemson. Started each of the 31 games in which she played during 1998-99 season and ranked second in scoring at 13.1 ppg. Has started the last 76 games she has played at Illinois. Was among the team leaders in several categories including first in rebounding (7.9 rpg), offensive rebounds (108) and blocks (24), second in minutes (31.0 per game), assists (103) and steals (41). Was nagged by a left knee injury suffered in the pre-season. Underwent arthroscopic knee surgery prior to the season but was in the starting lineup at the first game. Missed three games due to illness and injury. Led the team with seven double-doubles. Named to the all-tournament team in San Diego. Scored a season-high 21 points against Indiana on Jan. 3. Tied a career-high with 14 rebounds against Michigan on Jan. 5. Blocked a career-best four shots against Valparaiso on Dec. 21. Led the team with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against Washington on Dec. 6. Scored 20 points with nine boards and six steals at Indiana on Feb. 14. Earned seventh double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, tying a career-high, at Wisconsin on Feb. 19. Generally guards the opponents top offensive threat. One of three tri-captains during 1988-99 season.
Named second team All-Big Ten by both the media and the coaches. Only Illini to start all 30 games. Finished among the top three on the team in six categories. Led the team in assists (109), steals (62) and minutes (859), ranked second in rebounding (6.2 rpg) and third in scoring (11.7 ppg) and blocked shots (20). Played at the small forward position, but usually guarded the opponent's best player. Pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds while adding 16 points in the third round of the NCAA Tournament vs. North Carolina. In the NCAA second round at Assembly Hall, hit a clutch baseline jumper with 17 seconds on the clock vs. UCSB to push the lead to five and seal the victory. Named MVP of the San Juan Shootout after averaging 14.0 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game and 5.0 assists per game. Second on the team with five double-doubles this year. Set a career-high with 23 points vs. Ohio State on Feb. 13, nabbing seven steals as well. Scored in double-figures in 21 games and led the Illini in scoring four times. Hit double-figures in rebounding in six games.
Named to the All-Big Ten freshman team. Played in 30 games, starting 18. Started the last 11 games of the regular season and averaged 10.3 ppg during those games. Was fourth on the squad with 8.7 points per game, fourth in rebounding with 4.9 rpg, and second with 54 steals on the season. Recorded an Illinois season-high with eight steals versus Minnesota, Jan. 10. Named UI Defensive Player of the Year. Registered best game of season versus undefeated Connecticut in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, scoring 20 points, grabbing a game-high nine boards with three steals. Totaled 21 points and 13 rebounds against Penn State, Feb. 21. Recorded two double-doubles on the year and scored in double figures 13 times. Vs. Wisconsin, stole the ball with 25 seconds to play and made the game-winning basket.
A 1996 Nike and Parade All-American. Named to All-USA Today Team in 1996. Was named the 1996-97 Illinois High School Player of the Year by the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. Named Illinois Ms. Basketball. Chosen Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year. Led Stevenson High School to its second-consecutive IHSA Class AA state championship as a senior, leading the tournament with 23.0 ppg; was third in the tourney with 11.7 rebounds per game. Had 22 points and 18 rebounds in the state championship game versus Elgin, the team of UI teammate Melissa Parker. Was named Most Valuable Player at Stevenson as a senior. A two-time Sun-Times all-state pick. A consensus All-America pick as a senior. Averaged 21.4 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists during her senior year. Scored 686 points as a senior. Set the all-time Stevenson school records for career points (2,001), rebounds and steals. Stevenson was 123-9 during her four years. Ranked among the top 100 players in the nation by Joe Smith and Mike Flynn. Four-year all-conference performer. As a junior, she earned honorable mention All-America honors from Street & Smiths and averaged 15.6 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals and assists per game. Started all four years. High school coach was Frank Mattucci.
Also played volleyball during high school. Was born in New Jersey. Taujas father, Harvey, played 11 years in the NBA from 1974-85 with Philadelphia, New Jersey, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers; he played in the 1977 NBA finals with the 76ers and recorded 2,335 points and 3,639 rebounds during his career. Mother is Wanda Catchings. Sister, Tamika, who was a member of the 1996 and 1997 USA Junior National Teams, attends Tennessee on a basketball scholarship. Enjoys shopping. Enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
GETTING TO KNOW TAUJA
Favorite Movie: How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Favorite Vacation Spot: Kenya
Favorite Celebrity: Tyson Beckford
Person I Most Admire and Why:
My sister, Tamika, because of her dedication. She makes me want to work harder.
Favorite Musical Group: R. Kelly
What I love about Illinois: The support that has been shown for womens sports.
What I love about basketball: Its intense and keeps you on your toes.
Person in history Id want to meet: Harriet Tubman
Somethings people dont know about me: Although I stay to myself most of the time, I have a wild side. I like to write poems. Ive kept a journal since high school.
Catchings Career Statistics
Points: 26 (vs. Purdue, 3/1/99)
Field Goals: 11 (vs. Purdue, 3/1/99)
Field Goals Attempted: 25 (vs. Indiana, 1/19/98)
Free Throw: 7 (vs. Ohio State, 2/7/99)
Free Throws Attempted: 16 (vs. Ohio State, 2/13/98)
Rebounds: 14 (twice, last vs. Wisconsin, 2/19/99)
Assists: 9 on two occasions
Steals: 8 (vs. Minnesota, 1/10/97)
Blocks: 4 vs. Valparaiso (12/21/98)