Ogwumike, Stewart, Sims on AP All-America team
Chiney Ogwumike says she’s humbled to be an All-American again.
Stanford’s senior forward was honored as a member of The Associated Press women’s basketball All-America team for the second straight season, this time as an unanimous selection. Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart and Baylor’s Odyssey Sims were also on all 36 ballots selected by the national media panel that votes in the weekly Top 25.
They were joined on the first team by Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas.
”That kind of stuff makes me feel good,” Ogwumike said. ”I’m chasing someone, trying to work to get better. For people to say that we all think you’re a great player, it’s like wow.”
It’s the seventh straight season with at least one unanimous choice. Voting was done before the NCAA tournament.
”That team does have a bit of everything,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”Without question, they are the five best players in America right now and fortunately, no one has to play against that five.”
Auriemma has a pretty good five of his own at UConn, including Stewart. The other four starters on his undefeated team garnered All-America votes, marking only the second time since the AP picked teams that a school has had five players selected. Seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley made the second team, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson were honorable mention.
”I’m thrilled for Stewie,” Auriemma said. ”The fact that Bria and Stefanie were named to the second team is well deserved, and the fact that all five of our starters were recognized is quite an accomplishment.”
The Huskies also did it in 2002.
”I think it shows how strong we are as a team,” Stewart said. ”We are not about just one player, we have a great group of players. We generally start the game strong because all five starters are talented and play extremely well together.”
Stewart has been the most consistent of the starting five, averaging nearly 20 points and eight rebounds.
”It really is quite an honor,” Stewart said. ”I think the hard work in the offseason really paid off and I truly appreciate all my teammates and coaches have done to help me achieve this.”
While it’s the sophomore’s first appearance on the All-America team, Sims made it for the second straight season. Baylor’s sensational senior had an incredible year. She averaged 28 points to become only the second player ever to score more than 1,000 in a single season. She fell just eight points short of Jackie Stiles record of 1,062 points.
”She’s had a phenomenal year,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. ”She’s bailed us out of a lot of games, but yet as the season progressed, she started trusting her teammates more.”
While Sims was a one-person show at times, McBride had help in guiding Notre Dame to its undefeated record. The senior guard averaged 17.4 points for the Irish, with sophomore Jewell Loyd earning second team honors and senior Natalie Achonwa making third team.
”It truly is an honor to be part of this group,” McBride said. ”It’s great that Jewell and Natalie also were recognized because they’ve been such a huge part of our success.”
Thomas has saved her best performances for the end of her college career. She averaged a double-double this season with more than 18 points and nearly 11 rebounds a game to get Maryland to the regional final. She had a career-high 33 points in a Sweet 16 victory over Tennessee that got the Terps back to the Elite Eight.
”It’s just an honor to be an All-American once again,” said Thomas, who also was on the first-team as a sophomore. ”There are a lot of great players in the game and to be named an All-American is pretty amazing. I’m just grateful to be one of them.”
Joining Hartley, Dolson and Loyd on the second team were Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel and Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper.
The third team includes South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell, Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, Duke’s Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams and Achonwa.
Four of the five All-Americans were on the preseason team, along with Mosqueda-Lewis. McBride earned honorable mention.
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