UConn’s Collier headlines AP women’s All-America team
NEW YORK (AP) — Napheesa Collier has had an incredible senior year so far, leading UConn back to the Final Four for a 12th consecutive year.
The senior forward averaged 20.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and shot 61.4% during the regular season for the Huskies to earn a spot on The Associated Press women’s basketball All-America team.
“There haven’t been a lot of players like her that I’ve seen, a few, but not a lot,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
She was joined on the All-America team Monday by Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, Louisville’s Asia Durr and Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan. Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament by the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week.
Collier received the most votes, garnering 27 first place votes from the panel. She is third on UConn’s all-time scoring list with 2,386 points and third in shooting percentage and fourth in rebounding. The senior forward has been snubbed for many of the other major awards, not being named a finalist. She hasn’t let it bother her.
“I don’t need the validation but it’s nice to be recognized,” she said.
Gustafson put up eye-popping numbers at Iowa this season and got the Hawkeyes back to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993. She averaged a Division I-best 28 points while also ranking second in rebounding. She had 33 double-doubles to tie the NCAA’s single season record.
“She’s completely taken over our record books,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Her legacy will stand for a long, long time. People will remember her for the great teammate she is and what a humble great young woman she is.”
While Gustafson has been a double-double machine, Ionescu has rewritten the NCAA record book for triple-doubles and helped the Ducks reach the Final Four for the first time. She has 18 triple-doubles in her career, including one in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Indiana. She averaged 19.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.1 assists during the regular season for the Ducks. What’s impressed her coach Kelly Graves is her competiveness.
“She’s defined our program since she got here. The fortunes of our program have turned since she got here,” he said. “To go to the Elite Eight and what she’s done that three years, that’s crazy. We had only won five total NCAA games in the history of the program. She doesn’t take plays off and hates to lose.”
Durr has been one of the best scorers in the country the past few seasons and was an All-American for the second consecutive season. She averaged 21.3 points this season for the Cardinals.
“I’m thankful to be honored as an All-American again,” Durr said. “It’s a testament to my hard work paying off. I’m always in the gym, always training, always trying to find something that I can get better at. I’m just grateful for it. To be considered one of the best five players in the country, I’m very thankful for it.”
The 5-foot-10 guard would love a chance to play with the other first-teamers.
“They are all great players and fun to watch and I’m a fan of all of them,” she said.
McCowan has had a stellar senior season, carrying Mississippi State to the first SEC Tournament title in school history and earning most outstanding player honors in the process. She averaged 17.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of her. It’s been a work in progress for her to where we are today,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “She’s going to graduate in four years, she was marginally eligible when she came to us. I’m proud of that. I’ll be in front row when she walks that stage. Her development as a young lady as well as a basketball player is like something I haven’t seen. She’s deserving of being an All-American. … I love the kid to death, she’s made me a better coach, father, a husband.”
The second team consisted of Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale, Baylor’s Kalani Brown, California’s Kristine Anigwe, Stanford’s Alanna Smith and Iowa State’s Bridget Carleton.
UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson headlined the third team. She was joined by Notre Dame teammates Jessica Shepard and Jackie Young, Baylor’s Lauren Cox and Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham.
Durr, Ionescu, Samuelson, Ogunbowale and Brown made up the preseason All-America team.