Top players in each position to be named to inaugural watch lists next week
SPRINGFIELD, MASS. (November 2, 2017) — In collaboration with ESPN, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) are proud to announce the addition of four inaugural women’s college basketball awards. Similar to the men’s awards which were introduced during the 2014-15 season, the Hall of Fame and the WBCA will now present an award honoring the best player at each of the five positions in the women’s game. The partnership between the Basketball Hall of Fame, the WBCA, and ESPN demonstrates the continuing commitment of each entity to honor the women’s game on all levels.
In addition to the esteemed Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award which has been presented since 2000, the Basketball Hall of Fame and the WBCA will now present the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award, Katrina McClain Power Forward Award and Lisa Leslie Center Award. These Hall of Famers excelled at the highest level of their positions, becoming icons in their respective roles on the floor.
"The Basketball Hall of Fame is an institution that represents the entire game of basketball, all over the world and at every level. The creation of these awards brings together the very best of the women's game, both Hall of Famers and the top student-athletes,” John Doleva, President of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “We are excited to bring these awards to life and to present them in Columbus this coming Women’s Final Four as a celebration of the continued growth of the women’s game.”
The winners of the five position player of the year awards, in addition to the Wade Trophy, the sport's oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award, will be announced during ESPN2’s telecast of the national semifinal games in the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four on Friday, March 30.
“The WBCA and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame have been strategic partners and great friends for many years. We are proud to join the Basketball Hall of Fame in playing a role in the presentation of these new awards, which further celebrate the importance of our game and the strength of its evolution,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “And, of course, we are grateful for the long-standing support of ESPN and its continued commitment to showcasing women’s basketball. We look forward to honoring each of the inaugural recipients and hosting the Hall of Famers for whom these prestigious awards are named during the 2018 WBCA Convention in Columbus.”
Each award namesake will head her own selection committee. Each selection committee will be composed of fellow Hall of Famers, WBCA member coaches, and media members. Starting with the announcement of the Lieberman Award watch list on November 6, fans can stay engaged in the selection process by following the Basketball Hall of Fame (@hoophall) and the WBCA (@wbca1981) on Twitter and Instagram. Later in the 2017-18 season, the college basketball community will have the opportunity to cast votes for their favorite players on www.hoophallawards.com.
About Nancy Lieberman
Playing hoops on the rough-and-tumble Harlem courts, Brooklyn-bred Nancy Lieberman learned to play a physical, aggressive style of basketball unlike other women of her time. As a 5'10" point guard, Lieberman was taller than many of the guards of her era, and her ability to drive to the hoop, dish out assists, and grab hard-fought rebounds served her well during her stellar career. Lieberman led Old Dominion University to back-to-back AIAW national championships in 1979 and 1980. In 1986, she signed to be the first women to play in a men’s professional league in the USBL with the Springfield Fame and in 1987 with the Long Island Knights. She was twice named as the Wade Trophy winner — a basketball first. As the nation's top female athlete during those two seasons, Lieberman was the two-time winner of the Broderick Cup as well. Lieberman played professionally in the Women's Professional Basketball League, Women's American Basketball Association, United States Basketball League, Women's National Basketball Association and with the Washington Generals. Earning WBL MVP honors with the Dallas Diamonds in 1981, she led the team to the 1984 WABA championship and was league MVP. In 2011, she was the first women Head Coach hired in the NBA D-League for the Dallas Mavericks affiliate the Texas Legends. In 2015, she became only the second women hired as an Assistant Coach in the NBA with the Sacramento Kinds. She was named a recipient of the 2017 Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award for her on-going philanthropic work across the country through her Nancy Lieberman Charities, changing the lives of underserved youth across the country.
About Ann Meyers Drysdale
Ann Meyers Drysdale's career escalated women's basketball to a new level. She was the first high school player to make the United States national team and the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship to UCLA. Her high-octane approach translated into wins and awards and she finished her impressive career at UCLA owning 12 of 13 school records including becoming the first player to record a quadruple double in UCLA history. A supremely talented all-around player with natural basketball ability and instincts, Meyers Drysdale was the first player, male or female, named to an All-America team in four straight seasons and was named Player of the Year during her senior year. While still at UCLA, she started on the first women's Olympic team in 1976. After an All-America career, she became the first woman player drafted first overall into the Women's Basketball League and made history by becoming the first female player to tryout with an NBA team, the Indiana Pacers, whom she signed a free agent contract with. Meyers Drysdale pushed the envelope in women's basketball, bringing a feel and sense for the game that few players ever exhibited.
About Cheryl Miller
Cheryl Miller took women's basketball off the court and into the air above the rim. With tremendous grace and athletic dexterity, Miller established a legacy throughout her high school and college career that is unparalleled. Playing for Riverside Polytechnic High School (CA), in 1982, Miller set the single game scoring record of 105 points. As a collegiate forward at the University of Southern California from 1982 to 1986, Miller helped bring women's basketball to the forefront of American sports. In 1984, she led the Olympic team to gold averaging more than 16 points per game. Her superior athletic ability and engaging persona placed her among the elite in the world of college and professional athletics. In 1986, Sports Illustrated named Miller as the best male or female player in college basketball. In a spectacular career, Miller scored 3,018 total career points and was a four-time All-America. Miller was named Naismith Player of the Year three times and earned the Wade Trophy once.
About Katrina McClain-Pittman
Katrina McClain-Pittman was a prolific rebounder and terrific scorer in a career that spanned three Olympic Games and three continents. Before she earned her stripes for USA Basketball, McClain-Pittman starred at the University of Georgia where she was a two-time Kodak All-American and the WBCA National Player of the Year her senior season. She left Georgia as the school's second all-time leading scorer and rebounder, averaging a double-double her final two seasons in Athens. The Lady Bulldogs reached the 1985 NCAA Final Four and national championship game with McClain-Pittman controlling the paint and Teresa Edwards running the offense. The two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year finished her international career with two Olympic gold medals and one bronze, three FIBA World Championships medals, and five medals at the Goodwill Games, Pan Am Games, and World University Games. In all, McClain appeared on eleven USA Basketball rosters becoming one of the most decorated athletes in USA Basketball history.
About Lisa Leslie
In the summer of 1997, the Women's National Basketball Association was launched and with it, Lisa Leslie became a household name. The Los Angeles Sparks landed Lisa Leslie, the hometown star from the University of Southern California who blended beauty and grace with strength and athleticism like no one before. An eight-time All Star and two-time world champion, Leslie became the face of the WNBA. As she solidified her spot as the dominant center stateside, her stock rose with her success on the international stage, where she won four gold medals in Olympic competition. In 2002, she became the first player to dunk in a WNBA game and then led the Sparks to the franchise's second championship, winning her second Finals MVP. The three-time league MVP retired as the all-time leading rebounder in WNBA history and was an eight-time First Team All-WNBA performer.
About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage.
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About the WBCA: Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women's and girls' basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of a diverse community of coaches to those organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport.
For more information:
Visit us online: www.WBCA.org
… on Facebook: www/facebook.com/WBCA1981/
… on Twitter/Instagram: @wbca1981
… or call 770-279-8027
Basketball Hall of Fame Media Contact:
Nicole Taylor, Position Sports
WBCA Media Contact:
Jack Watford, Director of Communications
770-279-8027 ext. 112