Ava’s Angle: Women’s basketball potential National Player of the Year candidates

2/5/23 WBB fs USC by Erin Knapp The UConn Women’s basketball team takes on South Carolina at the Hartford XL Center on Sunday, Feb. 5. Despite leading in the first quarter and tying in the second, UConn was defeated 81-77 by South Carolina. This is the first time the two teams have played against each other since the final game of March Madness in 2022, when South Carolina beat UConn.

College women’s basketball has been dominant this season, and there are many players behind all the madness. March is slowly approaching and teams are starting to enter the home stretch of the regular season. It’s about time we start to look into the potential candidates for National POY, and although it can be difficult with the immense amount of talent, some players stand out more than others. Let’s take a look! 

Aliyah Boston, Senior – South Carolina 

Starting off with the reigning National POY we have South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston. Boston is one of the current game’s most decorated players as she already has an NCAA National Championship and the 2022 National POY award under her belt. The senior forward is the best player on the No.1 team in the country. This year she is averaging 13.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Boston also now holds the record for the most double-doubles in South Carolina women’s basketball history with 73 in total. Her numbers were more impressive last season with 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest, but this year, her opponents are double or even triple teaming her at all times, making it harder for her to get to the glass. Despite this, Boston has still been able to be involved in all parts of the game and the winning culture that South Carolina has this season with their undefeated record. Although it is challenging to get the National POY award back-to-back, Boston has put up a strong campaign with the Gamecocks in order to do just that. 

Caitlin Clark, Junior – Iowa 

After Iowa’s Caitlin Clark came up short in last year’s National POY contest, she has put up quite the case this year for a potential POY award. She has earned Big Ten Player of the Week five times this year. The junior guard is the most valuable player for Iowa as she is an offensive machine. Clark is ranked second in the nation in scoring, averaging 27.4 points per game, along with 7.6 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. She has had a record-breaking season for Iowa, the Big Ten conference and the entire NCAA league of women’s basketball. At the beginning of the month, Clark dropped 42 points against Maryland, putting Iowa on top. Per ESPN, “I’m not sure how you can’t call Clark the national player of the year with the season she has had,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder of Clark’s performances this season. Although Clark is not the most efficient defensive player because of how much of an offensive load she carries, she should still be in heavy consideration for National Player of the Year. 

Maddy Siegrist, Senior – Villanova 

Now we have the leading scorer in the nation: Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist. This season she is averaging 29.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Siegrist recently just dropped 50 points in Villanova’s game against Seton Hall, which broke the Big East record for all-time regular season scoring. Additionally, she shattered other records, one being the all-time scoring leader for men’s and women’s basketball at Villanova. The one downside to Siegrist’s campaign is the team she plays for. Villanova does not get as much exposure to other ranked teams, which makes it difficult for Siegrist to get the recognition she deserves. With her recent performances, the senior forward is climbing her way up the boards for the 2023 WNBA draft. Her senior season has been nothing short of incredible with her offensive power and versatility on all sides of the ball. The way she’s been playing is simply incredible, and with topping all the huge names in women’s basketball history, Siegrist should definitely be at the top of the National Player of the Year contender list. 

Aaliyah Edwards, Junior – UConn 

In a season full of challenges for the UConn Huskies, something that has been consistent for them is Aaliyah Edwards. The junior forward has put up consistent numbers for UConn all season and has been the glue for a team with a heavily-injured roster. This season, Edwards is averaging 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. In recent play, Edwards has been compared to Boston, with whom she had a close battle at the XL Center. She is very valuable to the Huskies this year, and it is evident that they would not have a 22-4 record if it wasn’t for her contributions. Since the start of the season, the situation has not improved for UConn and both their mental and physical exhaustion has been displayed in their most recent stretch. The way that Edwards has pulled this team together should put her in serious contention for being awarded National Player of the Year. 

Angel Reese, Sophomore – LSU 

Next is the youngest candidate on this list: LSU’s Angel Reese. Reese has become one of the best players in the country with some of the best stat lines. She is fifth in the nation in scoring, averaging 23.2 points per game, and second in the nation in rebounds, with 15.3. Additionally, Reese averages 2.3 assists per game. The sophomore forward’s strong skillset has helped LSU rise to be the No. 3 team in the country with a 23-1 overall record. There have been a few times that LSU has been tested this season, and Reese has been their answer. However, she was shut down against South Carolina when she was guarded by Boston. She experienced a similar situation against Tennessee. Despite these instances, Reese’s numbers have propelled her to the columns for National POY. If she keeps playing dominant basketball and has more success against tougher, ranked opponents, she could definitely be considered a candidate for National POY. 

Cameron Brink, Junior – Stanford  

On to one of the most intense and headstrong players in women’s basketball, we have Stanford’s Cameron Brink. The junior forward is averaging 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Although she has abilities to put points on the board, Brink’s strengths come in defense. She leads the nation in blocks per game with 3.8. Her consistency plays a huge role in helping Stanford push for the NCAA championship. Just five days ago, Brink broke the Stanford women’s basketball single-season block record with 92 blocks. She tends to get into foul trouble sometimes, which limits her minutes in games. Having Brink on the court is a huge advantage for Stanford, with Brink being one half of a powerful duo alongside senior Haley Jones. Her talents on all sides of the court can take Stanford to new heights and allow them to gain more wins against conference opponents in the Pac-12. All in all, with her being a blocking machine on top of all of her other skills, Brink should definitely be in the conversation for the National POY. 

All of these players are strong candidates for this year’s National Player of the Year award. We will just have to wait and see which player stands alone at the end of March Madness! 


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