STORRS, Conn. – Three Huskies were placed on the National Ballot for the 2017 John R. Wooden Award, honoring the most outstanding college basketball player, as announced by the Los Angeles Athletic Club Saturday. Gabby Williams (Sparks, Nev.), Napheesa Collier (O’Fallon, Mo.) and Katie Lou Samuelson each claimed a spot on the list of 15 student-athletes.
UConn led all universities with three selections total. Maryland, Notre Dame and Washington each had a pair of players on the ballot.
The Husky trio has been raking in the accolades recently as the three were named semifinalists for the 2017 Naismith Trophy earlier this week in addition to conference Players of the Year and All-Conference First Team honors.
American Athletic Conference Co-Players of the Year, Collier and Samuelson are both currently averaging over 20 points per game. Collier is second on the team and in the league in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per contest. She leads the Huskies in rebounds (267) and blocks (59) and is second in steals (53). Her 68.9 field-goal percentage is the best percentage in the nation and the top overall in the conference. In UConn’s regular season finale at USF, Collier topped her career-high from less than a week prior, accumulating 39 points on 15-19 shooting. The 39 points marked the fourth-highest single-game total ever scored by a Husky and was only seven-points shy of Nykesha Sales’ school record.
At 20.6 points per game, Samuelson leads the team and the league in scoring. Her 97 three-point field goals made are the most of any player in the conference and the seventh most in the nation. A three-time AAC Player of the Week honoree, Samuelson scored 94 points over a three-game span this season, including back-to-back 30-plus performances. She boasted a career-high 34 points on the road at Tulsa on Jan. 17, shooting 13-18 from the floor and a remarkable 7-12 from three-point range. Samuelson was the third Husky this season to eclipse the 1,000-career-point mark after she recorded 16 points in the regular season finale at USF.
The American’s Defensive Player of the Year, Williams is currently third on the team, averaging 13.1 points per game. She currently leads the squad in assists (158) and steals (80) and is second in rebounds (258) and blocks (40). Her 2.7 steals per game ranks third overall in the league and she also stands fourth in the conference in assists per game (5.2) and rebounds per game (8.8). Williams recorded the fifth triple-double in UConn history at East Carolina (Jan. 24) this year where she racked up 16 points and tied her career-highs in both rebounds (16) and assists (10). She also eclipsed the 1,000-career-point milestone after shooting a perfect 7-7 for 15 points against Temple on Feb. 22.
Voting will take place from March 14th to March 21st, and voters, consisting of hundreds of members of the national women’s college basketball media, take into consideration a player’s entire season of play, as well as opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top 10 players, and the finalists for the Wooden Award, 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 March 27th on ESPN at 8pm EST.
The 41st 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 Friday, April 7, 2017.
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