SAN ANTONIO (USBWA) – Setting records on their
respective campuses, in their conferences and even in receiving
weekly honors from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, UConn's
Paige Bueckers and Iowa's Caitlin Clark
get to set one more in sharing the 2020-21 Tamika Catchings
Freshman Player of the Year Award from the USBWA. Both
first-year stars were named first-team All-Americans today as well.
At the same time, 32 years after receiving the first USBWA coach
of the year award, Stanford's Tara VanDerveer,
whose Pac-12 champion Cardinal are part of the national semifinals
here in the Alamodome, is back to claim her second honor.
The Ann Meyers Drysdale National Women's Player of the Year Award
will be announced Sunday afternoon ahead of the NCAA women's championship
contest between tonight's winners.
Bueckers and Clark lit the women's landscape as soon as they
stepped on their respective campuses. Bueckers set a USBWA record
in earning the Tamika Catchings Freshman of the Week award in four
consecutive weeks (Jan. 24-Feb. 14). Clark earned four herself,
taking the initial weekly honor on Jan. 3, sharing it with Bueckers
in a first-ever USBWA weekly dual honor on Feb. 14, then closing
the season with the last two Feb. 21 and 28. Combined the duo earned
seven of the nine weekly awards and all of them from Jan. 24 on.
A 5-11 guard from Hopkins, Minn., in suburban Minneapolis, Bueckers
became the first freshman in UConn's storied program that groomed
future Olympians and WNBA champions to score 30 or more points in
three straight games. In UConn's first year returning to the Big
East, Bueckers claimed the conference's Freshman and Player of the
She set a USBWA record, earning the Tamika Catchings weekly freshman
award four straight times and once in that stretch a USBWA first-ever
dual honor in receiving the Ann Meyers Drysdale weekly player award.
Bueckers leads the Huskies in scoring (20.1), assists (5.9),
steals (65) and three-point field goal percentage (.459) and set
a UConn single-game record with 14 assists record against Butler
on Feb. 27, while also scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
She earned Big East Tournament Most Valuable Player honors and scored
28 points in the Riverwalk Regional Final win over Baylor, earning
Regional MVP honors in leading the Huskies to their 13th straight
Women's Final Four. Her 146 assists this season is a freshman school
"Thank you to the USBWA for naming me Tamika Catchings Co-Freshmen
of the Year," Bueckers said upon learning of winning the award.
"I wouldn't be here without my teammates and coaches; so credit
to them for being with me all season and making me a better player.
Congratulations to Caitlin for earning the award as well."
Buckers is the fourth UConn player to win Tamika Catchings Award,
named for the former Tennessee, WNBA and Olympic great, She joins
Maya Moore (2008), Tina Charles (2007), and Shea Ralph (1997) as
winners. Bueckers also earned First Team All-America status from
the USBWA. She is UConn’s first freshman selection since Moore in
2008 and only its third all-time, and earns UConn a first-team selection
in each of the last five seasons since the USBWA began splitting
the squad into first and second (2017-18) and then third (2018-present)
Clark, a 6-0 guard from West Des Moines, Iowa, is the first Hawkeye
to win the Tamika Catchings award. She was also a record-setter,
winning four USBWA weekly awards and becoming the first Iowa women’s
player to earn national freshman of the year recognition from any
media outlet. The nation's leading scorer at 26.6 points per game
set Big Ten records with 12 30-point games, 13 Big Ten freshman
weekly awards and a Big Ten-record five player of the week awards
for a combined 22 conference honors. She scored a career-high 39
points vs. Nebraska – at the time her third straight 30-point game
and one that set a Huskers' home-court Pinnacle Bank Arena record
for single-game scoring for men or women. She's the first Iowa freshman
to reach 600 points, 150 rebounds and 150 assists in a single season.
Her 12 30-point games are the most in the nation by a freshman since
"I am happy for Caitlin to receive this well-deserved honor,"
Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "I am excited about her future
and all the ways that she can improve her game and at the same time
help the continued success of our program."
VanDerveer, in winning her second USBWA Coach of the Year Award,
joins multiple winners Geno Auriemma of UConn (6), Muffet McGraw
of Notre Dame (3) and Kim Mulkey of Baylor (3).
Forced to be off campus from the start of the season until mid-February
due to restrictive COVID-19 protocols in Santa Clara County in Northern
California, VanDerveer has guided the Cardinal to a 29-2 record,
the Pac-12 regular-season and conference tournament titles, the
overall top seed in the NCAA tournament, and a second-half comeback
in the Alamo Regional title game that led Stanford to a national
semifinal showdown with South Carolina. The forced exile has led
to a national-best 23 road victories.
In December, VanDerveer passed the late legendary Tennessee coach
Pat Summitt and is now the all-time career leader among Division
I women's coaches with 1,123 triumphs. She has coached 21 USBWA
All-Americans at Stanford, including senior guard Kiana Williams,
a third-team selection this season, two Ann Meyers Drysdale Award
National Players of the Year (Kate Starbird in 1997 and Jennifer
Azzi in 1990) and Freshman of the Year Candice Wiggins in '05 before
the award took on Catchings' namesake.
VanDerveer is second all-time with 593 appearances in the Associated
Press women's poll, combining her Ohio State and Stanford eras in
the 45-year history of the poll. She trails only Summitt, who was
at 618 before retiring in 2012.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was
formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter
Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America
team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran