2022-23 USBWA Best Writing Contest Winners

From 193 entries, eighteen different writers have been honored in five categories in the USBWA's annual writing contest for the 2022-23 season, all of whom will be honored at the upcoming men's and women's Final Fours in April. Six writers earned multiple citations, led by Myron Medcalf (3) of ESPN.com, which led all publications with six awards. The Athletic followed with five honored stories. Other members who had two cited stories are Taylor Eldridge, CJ Moore, Matt Norlander, Brendan Quinn and Michael Voepel.

Following are the complete results, including comments on the winning stories from the judge:

Game/Spot News

1. Michael (M.A.) Voepel, ESPN.com: Becky Hammon, silences doubters, becomes first rookie coach to win WNBA title
Like the best game stories, this one goes beyond the play-by-play and shows a more complete picture of a person at the center of the storm. A step beyond.

2. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A series of interviews and scenes tell the story of Marquette's title
3. Jeff Borzello, ESPN.com: UConn completes dominant run, wins 5th national championship
4. Taylor Eldridge, Wichita Eagle: Analyzing Kansas State's pivotal play over Michigan State. Was it spontaneous, or planned?
5. Myron Medcalf, ESPN.com: Police reports: New Mexico State team left town despite police request to interview players


1. Lindsay Schnell, USA Today: Caitlin Clark, perhaps the most spectacular basketball player in America, doesn't feel she's arrived
Everyone knows Caitlin Clark, generally the acknowledged top player in women’s basketball. This column gives a glimpse behind the curtain and how, astonishingly, she still believes that she has more to do. An educational look at what makes a premier athlete keep going and getting better.

2. Brendan Quinn, The Athletic: Antoine Davis approaches Pete Maravich's scoring totals, but the mystique of “Pistol Pete” is unlikely to be approached
3. Matt Fortuna, The Athletic: Notre Dame coach Mike Bray took everyone along for the ride
4. CJ Moore, The Athletic: Is Kansas' Bill Self the best regular-season men's college basketball coach ever?
5. Matt Norlander, CBS Sports.com: Alabama's tone-deaf player's introduction falls flat

Magazine-length feature

1. CJ Moore, The Athletic: ‘I didn’t know, Mom’: The force that drives the most improved player in college basketball
This story is highlighted by the scenes, between KJ Adams and his mother and coach – scenes that make the story resonate. It is moving, heartfelt and personal.

2. David Teel, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Former coach Terry Holland, sitting a few rows back in the bleachers, links the University of Virginia's past with its present
3. Alexa Philippou, ESPN.com: The Cavinder Twins are thriving in the new NIL world of basketball
4. Michael (M.A.) Voepel, ESPN.com: Sue Bird is considered one of the greatest players in WNBA history. And she's ready for the next phase of her basketball life
5. Myron Medcalf, ESPN.com: The story of the third-generation basketball legacy behind UCLA's Gabriela and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Moderate-length feature

1. Myron Medcalf, ESPN.com: The life and rise of 7-5 Jamarion Sharp, Division I's tallest player
Like a good photo gallery, this story shows what the tallest player in Division I has endured. A well-told example of a story that is often overlooked by writers. A “what is it like” story about a 7-5 player.

2. Natalie Heavren, The Next: WBL trailblazers share their Title IX experiences
3. John Feinstein, Washington Post: After 32 years, a referee looks at retirement
4. Mitchell Northam, USA Today Sports/Baltimore Banner: Angel Reese makes her mark with feeling
5. Kevin McNamara, KevinMcSports.com: Joe Mazulla lands as Boston's head coach


1. Brendan Quinn, The Athletic: What's a basketball team's place after a campus tragedy? Michigan State struggles to discover how to return to a season
This is a chilling deep dive into the Michigan State campus shooting. For readers who had only seen the nuts and bolts of the news story, this story opens up a human element that is affecting. A good example of in-depth storytelling.

2. Kevin Armstong, NJ.com: Camden celebrates a hoops rebirth. But critics wonder: Did they cheat their way to a championship?
3. Matt Norlander, CBS Sports: Florida coach Todd Golden hop-scotches across the country looking at players while they look at him
4. Rachel Lenzi, Buffalo News: The rosters of the Big 5 were changed dramatically in five weeks. Here's how it happened
5. Taylor Eldridge, Wichita Eagle: NIL has inadvertently, allowed schools to compete for players. Is Wichita State too late as it tentatively enters into the pool?