Huskies star Kelsey Plum named national player of the year and captures coveted Wooden Award.
Kelsey Plum capped a historic collegiate basketball career and an unbeaten individual awards streak Friday night by winning the John R. Wooden Award.
The Washington star, who became the most prolific scorer in NCAA history this season, added perhaps the highest honor in the sport that’s given to the nation’s most outstanding player to a treasure trove of hardware.
Plum finished a perfect 9 for 9 in the postseason prize race. She won the Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, the Associated Press Player of the Year award and the espnW Player of the Year award.
She also won the Dawn Staley Award that’s given to the most outstanding collegiate guard in the country and the Nancy Lieberman Award, which recognizes the the top point guard in the nation.
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In addition, Plum captured Pac-12 Player of the Year honors.
With her mom Katie and Mike Neighbors, the former UW coach who left this week for Arkansas, sitting together in the crowd, Plum beat out a field of Wooden award finalists that included South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and Connecticut’s Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier.
“I’m grateful to the University of Washington and my coaches and my teammates,” said Plum, the only senior in the final five, while accepting the award. “Something like that doesn’t happen without great people.”
The 5-foot-8 point guard averaged 31.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game during the 2016-17 season. The Huskies finished 29-6 and were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Mississippi State in the regional semifinals.
She set the NCAA women’s scoring record (3,527) and ranks second all-time – male or female – in NCAA history for career points, behind Pete Maravich’s 3,667. She also scored 1,109 point in 2016-17 to set a single-season women’s record.
Plum, a four-time all-Pac-12 selection and unanimous All-America First Team pick this season, also finished her career as the NCAA women’s all-time leader for free throws made (912), breaking a 33-year-old record.
“I feel so blessed and humbled by all of this,” Plum said in a phone interview. “To hear your name mentioned among Ann Meyers Drysdale, Nancy Lieberman, John Wooden and Dawn Staley – I shake my head. If you would have told me that this would have happened last year, I would have laughed at you.
“Not because I didn’t believe in myself, but I’m realistic enough to know that something like this is such a rarity.”
Friday’s festivities in Los Angeles followed a 24-hour cross-country trek for Plum, who picked up the Staley Award in Philadelphia in Thursday.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “By the time it’s over I will have been in six different cities in 10 days. It’s been a lot, but it’s a great problem to have.”
Next on the itinerary for Plum is UW’s team banquet next week followed by Thursday’s WNBA draft in New York where she’s projected to be a top-3 pick.
The San Antonio Stars have the No. 1 overall pick. The Chicago Sky will pick second followed by two selections for the Dallas Wings.
It remains to be seen where Plum lands in the draft, but most of her trophies and awards are headed to her mom’s home in Poway, Calif.
“They’re a little too heavy for me to carry around,” Plum said laughing. “What happens to them, that’s something she’ll have to figure out. I’m sure (Washington) might get one. I’m sure my high school might get one. And we’ll keep a few.”
Women’s John R. Wooden Award All-Time Winners
|2016||Breanna Stewart||University of Connecticut|
|2015||Breanna Stewart||University of Connecticut|
|2014||Chiney Ogwumike||Stanford University|
|2013||Brittney Griner||Baylor University|
|2012||Brittney Griner||Baylor University|
|2011||Maya Moore||University of Connecticut|
|2010||Tina Charles||University of Connecticut|
|2009||Maya Moore||University of Connecticut|
|2008||Candace Parker||University of Tennessee|
|2007||Candace Parker||University of Tennessee|
|2006||Seimone Augustus||Louisiana State University|
|2005||Seimone Augustus||Louisiana State University|
|2004||Alana Beard||Duke University|