ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Unbeaten national semifinalist Connecticut and Big Ten power Maryland dominate the 2016-17 U.S. Basketball Writers Association Womens All-America Team, combining for half of the players on the ten-member squad that has been selected annually for 30 seasons.
The USBWA group also includes the NCAA's all-time scoring champion in Washington senior Kelsey Plum and all but the UConn representatives come from four of the five power conferences.
Plum, in recently concluding her collegiate career with a 25.4 scoring average – 31.7 this season – finished with an all-time NCAA-best total of 3,527 career points and this past season a mark of 1,109 points.
Plum is one of several making the All-America squad who are frontrunners for the USBWA's Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year Award, to be handed out Friday at 3 p.m. in the American Airlines Center in Dallas prior to the national semifinals. The freshman player of the year and coach of the year awards will also be presented at that time.
Connecticuts Napheesa Collier, Notre Dame·s Brianna Turner, South Carolina·s A·ja Wilson, Maryland·s Brionna Jones, and Ohio State·s Kelsey Mitchell are also in the mix for national player of the year honors.
At the beginning of the season, in a rarity, UConn players were missing in citation after graduating three superstars, including three-time Ann Meyers Drysdale Award winner Breanna Stewart.
But here we are five months later, the Huskies (36-0) are on a NCAA-record 111-game win streak and sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson (20.3 ppg) and Napheesa Collier (20.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and junior Gabby Williams (14.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg) have claimed USBWA All-America honors while in Dallas for this weekends Women·s Final Four. This is the third time in four seasons that UConn has placed three players on the USBWA All-America squad.
Samuelson and Collier are now the highest scoring duo in Connecticut history passing Tina Charles and Maya Moore. And, they are also the only sophomores on the USBWA team.
Also in Dallas for the games at the American Airlines Center is South Carolina junior Wilson (17.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and her teammates, playing for former two-time USBWA Player of the Year Dawn Staley, who starred at Virginia. Samuelson's older sister Karlie is also in Dallas with the Stanford squad, while the other team is Mississippi State, making its Final Four debut playing against UConn in one of the semifinals Friday night.
The Maryland part of the All-America group is seniors Brionna Jones (19.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (18.8 ppg), whose collegiate careers ended abruptly in a Bridgeport (Conn.) Regional semifinal off the upset loss to a youthful Oregon squad that was a No. 10 seed.
Washingtons Plum heads five returning players from the 2016 group. The others are Notre Dame junior Brianna Turner (15.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Maryland·s Walker-Kimbrough, South Carolina·s Wilson, and Ohio State·s Mitchell (22.6 ppg).
The other player on the squad and making her debut is Oregon State senior Sydney Wiese (13.3 ppg).
All totaled, there are five seniors, three juniors, and two sophomores on the 30th USBWA All-America Team. In terms of conference representatio, the Pac-12 boasts Washingtons Plum and Oregon State·s Wiese, while the Big Ten has the Maryland duo of Jones and Walker-Kimbrough and Ohio State·s Wilson, the Atlantic Coast Conference has Notre Dame·s Turner, the Southeastern Conference has South Carolina·s Wilson. The UConn trio compete in the American Athletic Conference.
Tthe complete 2016-17 USBWA Women's All-America Team:
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association, formed in 1956, has named a women's All-America team since the 1987-88 season. The association has also named a national player of the year now known as the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award · since 1987-88 and a national coach of the year since 1989-90. In 2002-03, the USBWA initiated an award for the nation's top freshman. For more information on the USBWA and its awards, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821.
• USBWA Women's All-America Team