Column: Take a bow Kelsey Plum, and the Wooden Award

Washington's Kelsey Plum waves to fans after the team's NCAA college basketball game against Utah on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Seattle. Plum set the all-time career NCAA scoring record, finishing the game with 3,397 points. Washington won 84-77. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

This year covering the UConn Huskies, I have seen three Husky players score 30 or more points and another throw up a triple double, but yesterday it was a Husky on the West Coast who stole the show. Senior Kelsey Plum dropped an absurd 57 points on Saturday against Utah to pass Jackie Stiles as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I women's basketball history, as Plum has just ended the conversation for who the player of the year is.

Due to the time differences, several West Coast teams like Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA are broadcasted on the East Coast, but often too late to watch. Washington falls into this boat as well as I have known who Plum is for months but have not gotten the chance to see her play. She is averaging over 30 points this season, but the Washington Huskies playing in the Pac-12 have only played a handful of ranked teams as Plum and the Huskies have not been on ESPN in a while.

Occasionally they have highlights of her dropping 30 plus points or when she scored 35 against the University of Southern California to pass into second place, but usually on ESPN if women’s basketball is covered it is about the UConn Huskies.

Plum, in her historic season and career, is bringing more people to women’s basketball as she is a fun player to watch and everyone likes the story of a Cinderella team knocking off the giants in March.

For those who have not followed Plum’s career, she has been doing this since day one, as she averaged 20.9 points her freshman season, including breaking Washington’s record for most points in a game by a freshman with 38. In her sophomore year she broke her own record with a 45 point performance in a loss against Oklahoma, as she wound up averaging 22.6 points per game.

Once again she increased her average the next year as she scored 25.9 points per game and helped lead the Huskies to their first Final Four appearance in program history.

This season she is averaging 31.6 points per game and is only 84 points away from breaking Stiles’ single-season scoring record of 1,062, set in 2000-01. Also by scoring 57 points against Utah she moved into fifth place for most points in a game, passing Stiles once again, whose record was 56 in her junior year.

This senior season has been one for the ages as she is led the Huskies to a 27-4 season as they are currently No. 11 in the country and on the rise. Along with the points she is averaging a career high 5.2 rebounds per game and a career high 4.8 assists per game as she is also shooting, personal bests 43.6 percent from three and 53.7 percent from the field. She is a lock to win the Wooden Award and just closed the door with the 57 point hammer she dropped on Saturday.

Plum is poised to lead Washington to a top four seed and deep into the tournament, as she has scored 139 points in six NCAA tournament games. Last season she averaged 26.3 points in the first four games, but was held to 17 points in the Final Four loss to Syracuse.

The Washington Huskies and Plum will certainly not be the favorites going into the tournament but in March anything can happen as if she can keep scoring 30 per game, who is going to be able to stop her?

Kelsey Plum and the Huskies will hope plum season, which does not start until May, will come early this year, as they should be for at least a spot in the Sweet 16, and with Plum, who knows, maybe even Dallas.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.