University of Kentucky women’s basketball sophomore guard Rhyne Howard has been named one of 15 players to the John R. Wooden Award National Ballot, it was announced Saturday morning on espnW.
Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, the national ballot consists of 15 student-athletes who are candidates for the Wooden Award All American Team™ and Wooden Award Trophy as the most outstanding college basketball player in the United States. All balloted players have been certified by their university to meet or exceed the qualifications for the Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden when the Award was established. The qualifications include: candidates must exhibit strength of character, both on and off the court; candidates must be full-time students in an accredited NCAA college or university; candidates must be making progress toward graduation and have a cumulative 2.00 grade point average since enrolling in their school; candidates must contribute to team effort; candidates must excel in both offense and defense; and candidates should be considered on their performance over the course of the entire season.
Voting for the award will take place from March 17-24 and voters take into consideration a player’s entire season of play, as well as the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top five players and the finalists for the Wooden Award, which is widely considered the most prestigious honor in college basketball, will be announced following the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament and will be the focus of a 30-minute show on April 3 on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. ET. The 44th annual presentation of the John R. Wooden Award to the men’s and women’s most outstanding college basketball player will be the anchor presentation of the ESPN College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s on ESPN2 on April 10. The men’s and women’s John R. Wooden Award All American Team will be honored during the ceremony, and the 2020 Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Trophy will be presented to C. Vivian Stringer, Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Rutgers.
Howard has had a sensational sophomore season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats and ranking third nationally with 23.3 points per game. The guard also leads UK with 6.4 rebounds per game and 61 steals, while she is second on the team with 28 blocks and third on the team with 64 assists. Howard has hit 82 3-pointers this season, which is the most in program history in a single season, topping the previous record of 81 set by Sara Potts in 2004-05. Howard’s 23.3 scoring average is the most for a UK player under Matthew Mitchell and the fourth-best average in program history.
The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, was recently named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, All-SEC First Team and SEC All-Defensive. Those honors came from league coaches on the same day she was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy. Howard has been named SEC Player of the Week four times this season and was espnW National Player of the Week in early January. Howard is on nearly every national player of the year watch list this season. Most recently, she was named to the WBCA Wade Trophy Midseason Watch List. She has also been tabbed a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award, which annually honors the best small forward in women’s college basketball, John R. Wooden Award Late-Season Top 20 and Dawn Staley Award Midseason Watch List, establishing her as a top candidate for national player of the year.
So far this season, Howard has placed her name all over the Kentucky record books as the only player in program history to score 25+ points in five straight games while she is the second player to score 20+ points in eight straight games. Part of that impressive stretch was 37 points in UK’s win vs. Tennessee followed by a school-record tying 43 points at Alabama. She is the only player in program history to score 37+ points in consecutive games and become the second fastest UK player ever to reach 1,000 career points and currently has 1,132 career points which ranks 28th on UK’s all-time scoring list.
Howard helped Kentucky advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament after dropping 24 points and hitting five 3s against Tennessee on Friday. The guard also led UK with three steals and had a block as the Wildcats earned an 86-65 victory. UK will return to action Saturday night at 7:30 on ESPNU as it battles top-10 ranked Mississippi State in the semifinals.
‑ GO CATS –
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