Washington star Kelsey Plum captured the Naismith Trophy and the Wade Trophy, which goes to the nation's most outstanding women's basketball player.
Kelsey Plum had hoped to finish a historic career with the Huskies in the NCAA tournament Final Four, perhaps hoisting the school’s first national championship trophy.
However, the consolation prizes she received this week in Dallas aren’t too shabby.
On Saturday, Plum won two of the most prestigious awards in women’s college basketball – the 2017 Naismith Trophy and Wade Trophy, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding player.
The Washington star also picked up the Nancy Lieberman Award that’s given to the top point guard in the country.
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The Huskies may have finished the season at 29-6 with a loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 last week, but Plum is undefeated during the postseason award season.
The all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history is eight for eight while winning every prize available.
This week in Dallas, Plum claimed the Associated Press Player of the Year award and was an unanimous choice for the AP All-American first team. She also won the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, which goes to the national player of the year, and the Dawn Staley Award that’s given to the most outstanding collegiate guard in the country.
The only prize remaining is the Wooden award, and Plum is practically guaranteed to capture the sport’s top individual award Friday when the winner is announced.
Winning the Naismith Trophy, which was established in 1983 and named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball, is a first for a UW player and the fifth time it’s gone to a Pac-12 player.
“Kelsey’s accomplishments this season were remarkable, as well as record-breaking, which speaks to her consistency and desire to improve each and every season,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which oversees the Naismith Trophy.
Plum joins Stanford’s Candice Wiggins (2008), Stanford’s Jennifer Azzi (1990) and USC’s Cheryl Miller (1985) as the fourth Pac-12 player to win the Wade Trophy, the sports oldest award that began in 1978 and is referred to as the Heisman Trophy of women’s college basketball.
The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), which selects the Wade Trophy winners, also named Plum and UW’s Chantel Osahor to its 10-member All-America team.
“On behalf of the nine of us back here, we’d like to thank the WBCA for recognizing us,” Plum said during a WBCA awards ceremony. “They do a tremendous job in putting on this event. We’re really proud to honor our universities. “And we’re proud to play basketball as women and be role models.”
The 5-foot-8 senior point guard from Poway, Calif. arrived in Dallas this week with a handful of records and a jam-packed itinerary crammed with banquets, buffets, interviews and promotional appearances. Over the past several days she’s been feted, celebrated and universally praised during her final days in college basketball.
The slew of awards Plum has received is a fitting tribute to a record-breaking season. She smashed the NCAA’s 16-year-old all-time scoring record in style while tallying a Pac-12 record 57 points in Washington’s regular-season finale at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Plum finished with 3,527 career points – 134 more than previous record holder Jackie Stiles.
Plum also surpassed Stiles, the former Missouri State standout, on the NCAA’s single-season scoring list with 1,109 points.
In her final game – a 75-64 loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 last Friday in Oklahoma City – Plum also broke the 33-year-old NCAA career free throw record. She has 912 in her career.
Plum established herself as the front-runner in the awards race and was up against South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson and Connecticut’s Katie Lou Samuelson for player of the year honors.
But in reality, Plum had no equals this season. Her peers are the game’s all-time greats, said Lieberman, the 58-year-old Hall of Famer.
“I’ve seen Pearl Moore, I’ve seen the Lynette Woodward, I’ve seen Jackie Stiles up close and personal – the greats of the game and you’re right there,” Lieberman told Plum. “There was a lot of great players that played this game, but very few players have changed the game.
“You’ve done that. You’re not only a record holder, but you’ve changed how the game is being played. And that’s pretty stout to sit here with someone and to say that about you.”