Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles has been named the 2012 WNBA Most Valuable Player, the WNBA announced today.  Charles received 345 points (25 first place votes) from a national panel of 41 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Los Angeles Sparks’ forward Candace Parker finished second with 253 points (seven first-place votes) and Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings finished third with 210 points (seven).  A pair of Minnesota Lynx players, forward Maya Moore and guard Seimone Augustus, finished fourth and fifth with 128 points and 42 points, respectively.

In her third season, all with the Sun, Charles captured her first Most Valuable Player award after finishing second in 2011 (six first-place votes), and seventh in 2010 when she was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

Charles, who earned All-WNBA First Team acclaim in 2011 and Second Team honors in 2010, finished the 2012 campaign with her third consecutive WNBA rebounding title (10.5 rpg).  She also set a new Connecticut Sun single-season scoring record, averaging 18 points. In the process, Charles guided the Sun to the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 25-9 record, the league’s second best mark behind the defending champion Lynx (27-7).

A prolific scorer and rebounder, Charles ranked atop the WNBA in double-doubles for the third straight season, sharing the 2012 lead with the Sparks’ Parker.  Charles previously set the league record in the category with 22 in her rookie campaign and topped that effort with 23 a year ago.  In the process, Charles has dominated the rebounding leaderboard, finishing tops among WNBA players in each of her three seasons. She grabbed a WNBA record 398 rebounds in her first season, 374 in 2011, and 345 this season.

In the Sun’s win over Indiana on Sept. 19 – Charles’ 100th game – she became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 1,100 rebounds, surpassing the mark of Yolanda Griffith who reached the milestone in 104 games.  Earlier this season she eclipsed the milestones previously owned by Griffith as the fastest to reach 900 and 1,000 boards. She also became the first player in WNBA history to post three 20-20 games in a career, registering her third such effort on June 6 at Atlanta, when she had 23 points and 22 rebounds.

For the year, Charles shot a career-best .499 percent from the field (250-of-501) and a career-best .802 from the free throw line (93-of-116).  In addition to leading Connecticut in scoring and total rebounds, she paced Connecticut in defensive rebounds (6.7 drpg), offensive rebounds (3.7 orpg), blocks (1.42 bpg), and minutes (33.2 mpg).

Charles is the first Sun player and the second University of Connecticut product to earn the WNBA’s top honor.  The Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, also from UConn, earned both the league’s MVP and WNBA Finals MVP awards in 2009.

Players were awarded 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five for third, three for fourth and one for each fifth-place vote received. Additionally, for the second time in league history, fans were able to vote online and via mobile devices. The fan vote, counted as one vote and was compiled with the 41 media votes to determine the winner.

In honor of being named the WNBA Most Valuable Player, Charles will receive $15,000 and a specially-designed trophy.