Women’s Basketball: Collier, Samuelson named American Athletic Conference Players of the Year


UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson spots up for a three-pointer during the second half of the Huskies’ 83-41 win over SMU. Samuelson and teammate Napheesa Collier were named American Athletic Conference Co-Players of the Year on Friday, March 3. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

The question for the last few weeks in the American Athletic Conference has been whether sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson or sophomore Napheesa Collier would win conference player of the year. In a pleasant twist, both ended up taking home the honor as the two were named Co-Players of the year. In the American, the conference awards are voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches and ties were not broken, as UConn’s Geno Auriemma was named Co-Coach of the year with Temple coach Tonya Cardoza.

Napheesa Collier shoots a shot during the Huskies’ 91-48 win over Memphis on Feb. 25, 2017. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

Collier finished the season as one of the hottest players in the country as she averaged 29.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting 80.4-percent in the last three games of the season. On the year she averaged 20.4 points per contest and led the team in rebounds and blocks per game.

She shot 68.6 percent from the field,  which is the best in the conference and the second best in the NCAA. Along with winning this award, she is a Naismith Trophy national semifinalist and a candidate for the USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale award.

Sharing with the Player of the Year award with Collier was Samuelson, who led the team and conference in scoring with 20.7 points per game. She is second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage and she is seventh in the nation in made 3-point field goals with 93 overall. This season she was named the American player of the week three times and like Collier she is a candidate for the Naismith, Wooden and Ann Meyers Drysdale awards.

Auriemma is not a stranger to being named the American Coach of the Year as he has now won this award four years in a row. He is the NCAA all-time winning percentage leader and has led the Huskies to a 29-0 record and a No.1 seed in this weekend’s conference championship tournament.

Sharing the award with Auriemma is former UConn assistant head coach Tonya Cardoza, who has guided the Temple Owls to a 23-6 season and the No.2 seed in this weekend’s tournament. On Jan. 1, Cardoza became the Owls’ all-time winningest coach and saw the Owls become nationally ranked for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

The other big award presented today was the Freshman of the Year award, which was given to USF forward Tamara Henshaw. In her inaugural season, Henshaw finished second in the conference in field goal percentage and averaged 7.5 rebounds per game. She was named the American freshman of the week three times and had four double-doubles on the year.

The annual awards were presented before the start of the American tournament which tips-off at 4 p.m. Friday between Memphis and Tulsa. The Huskies will play the winner of this game at 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3. 

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.

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