ATLANTA, Ga. – Six Huskies are among the names of the Naismith Top 50 women in consideration for the 2018 Naismith Player of the Year Trophy, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.
Seniors Kia Nurse (Hamilton, Ontario) and Gabby Williams (Sparks, Nev.), juniors Napheesa Collier (O’Fallon, Missouri), Katie Lou Samuelson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Azura Stevens (Raleigh, N.C.) and sophomore Crystal Dangerfield (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) represent UConn on the list of 50 hopefuls.
Connecticut, which has won more Citizen Naismith Trophies (10) than any other school, leads the Watch List with six players, followed by Notre Dame with four candidates. Breanna Stewart was the most recent Husky recipient in 2016 and also took home the honor in 2014 and 15. She is the third Husky to win the award in multiple seasons, joining Maya Moore (2009, 2011) and Diana Taurasi (2003, 2004).
The six, all averaging double-figure point totals, contribute largely to the top-ranked Huskies 6-0 start and +28.0 scoring margin this season.
Nurse, who has started all six games, is boasting 19.2 points per game in 32.8 minutes per contest. The guard is averaging 3.3 assists and 3.2 boards, while tallying five steals and one block defensively. The Hamilton, Ontario native is pacing the team with five double-digit scoring games and two 20-point performances, while her 27 points against Nevada are the highest scored by a Husky this season.
The 2017 WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year, Williams, leads the squad with 19 steals while her 8.5 boards per game trail only teammate Azura Stevens. The senior has started all six game thus far for the Huskies and is putting up 12.2 points per game and owns one double-double on the season.
Stevens, in her first year as a Husky, is pacing the team with 9.5 boards per game and 10 blocks. The forward has led the team in rebounding four different times and recorded her first double-double in a UConn uniform in a win against Maryland (18 points, 12 rebounds) on Nov. 19. Stevens became the most recent member of the 1,000-point club after putting up 25 points against Michigan State on Nov. 25
Collier, who is averaging 12.2 points, ranks second on the team in steals and blocks, notching 18 and eight, respectively. The 2017-18 American Preseason Player of the Year is bringing down 7.3 boards while is dishing out 20 assists. The forward has collected two double-doubles this season and has led the team in scoring twice this season.
Before sitting out due to a foot injury, Samuelson was recording 16.5 points per game. In 46 minutes played, the junior racked up 33 points, four steals, three assists and one block. Samuelson along with Williams and Collier were tabbed AP Preseason All-Americans in early November.
Dangerfield is in the midst of a breakout sophomore season. After averaging just 6.6 points last year, the guard is averaging a career-best 14.0 points per game. To kick off the season, Dangerfield sank a career-high 24 points on shooting 9-16 from the field, including 6-7 from downtown. Her 31 helpers pace the squad as Dangerfield sits in the top 50 in the nation with a 3.10 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Players of the Year. A list of the midseason 30 team will be released on Feb. 12, 2018.
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