UConn’s Collier named AAC player of the year

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              South Florida's Shae Leverett, left, defends against Connecticut's Napheesa Collier (24) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game Monday, March 4, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)
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UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — UConn’s Napheesa Collier, averaging a double-double this season, was honored Friday as the player of the year and top defensive player in the American Athletic Conference.

The senior forward became the first player to earn both awards in the same AAC season.

Her coach, Geno Auriemma, whose team has never lost an AAC game, was named coach of the year. Teammate Christyn Williams was the league’s freshman of the year.

Collier is averaging 20.2 points and 10.2 rebounds for UConn (28-2, 16-0 AAC), which has gone 117-0 since the league was formed in 2013 and has won all five conference tournaments.

She shared the player of the year award in 2017 with teammate Katie Lou Samuelson, who was named player of the year last season.

Collier and Samuelson are joined on the conference first team by teammate Crystal Dangerfield, Temple’s Mia Davis, Cincinnati’s Iimar’I Thomas and Kay Kay Wright from UCF

Cincinnati’s Florence Sifa was selected the AAC’s newcomer of the year, UCF’s Kayla Thigpen was honored as sixth player of the year and Tulane’s Krystal Freeman was the league’s most improved player.

Auriemma has been the conference’s coach of the year five times in the league’s six seasons and has won 15 conference coaching awards dating back to the team’s days in the old Big East. He beat out UCF coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who guided the Knights to a 24-5 season, the best Division I season in program history.