The United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) announced their 2016-17 women’s All-America team Wednesday afternoon and it is to no one’s surprise that the UConn Huskies are heavily featured in the team.
Sophomores Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson were joined by junior Gabby Williams and seven of the best talents around the nation to round out the 10-player list. Collier and Samuelson were the only sophomores named to the team and are already the highest scoring duo in a single season in UConn women’s basketball history, surpassing the mark Tina Charles and Maya Moore set in 2009-10 with at least one game left to increase that record.
Williams was perhaps the glue to the entire UConn roster by contributing in almost every statistical category. Most importantly, her vision from the high post made for great playmaking ability and finding open scorers at precise moments in the game, leading the Huskies to an undefeated record. Williams is also a proven threat to score from inside the paint and has averaged 21.3 points per game so far in the NCAA tourney.
The three UConn stars are joined by seven other stars, including A’Ja Wilson of South Carolina, who will also be competing for the championship in Dallas, Texas. Wilson, who made the 2015-16 team as well, is one of five returning players to the All-America team including Washington’s Kelsey Plum, Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner and Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell.
Plum, the NCAA all-time points leader, finished her career with 3,527 total points including 1,109 points in her senior year alone, good for 31.7 points per game. The Washington star averaged 25.4 points per game for her entire career and will be in contention for the Player of the Year Award. Plum is one of just two All-America team members that the Huskies did not face in a game this season. The other is Sydney Wiese of Oregon State, who averaged 13.3 points per game this year.
Maryland senior Brionna Jones rounds out the team, joining her teammate and fellow senior Walker-Kimbrough. The two players averaged 19.6 and 18.8 points per game, respectively, and played their last collegiate games in the Sweet 16 against the Oregon Ducks, who ultimately lost to UConn in the Bridgeport Regional Final.
By including Collier, Samuelson and Williams on the list, the USBWA named three UConn players to the All-America team for the third time in four years, and at least two Huskies to the team for the fifth consecutive season. Although it has yet to be announced, it is likely that head coach Geno Auriemma will win his second consecutive Coach of the Year Award and his sixth total since his first title-winning season in 1994-95. Collier is expected to be one of the contenders for Player of the Year, as well.
Both awards are expected to be announced by the USBWA following the conclusion of the NCAA tournament.