Duke's Balogun, Florida State's Latson are women's national players of the week

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – For the season’s fourth weekly women’s awards from the U.S.Basketball Writers Association, for games ending Sunday, Jan. 1, Duke guard/forward Elizabeth Balogun is the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week, Florida State guard Ta’Niya Latson is the Tamika Catchings freshman recipient and Illinois is the national team of the week.

The awards, organized under Mel Greenberg, the USBWA Vice President for women’s basketball, are drawn from the weekly conference citations as well as at-large additions.

Each week awards go to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s national player, the organization’s Tamika Catchings freshman player, and the USBWA’s women’s national team of the week.

Balogun, a 6-1 senior guard/forward from Lagos, Nigeria, who with Duke is in the unique position of being the only person to play for three Atlantic Coast Conference teams (previously Georgia Tech and last season Louisville), averaged 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in leading the Blue Devils to a pair of major upsets, winning at then-No. 6 NC State and then at home against Louisville. The success under second-year coach Kara Lawson resulted in Duke crashing into Monday’s latest Associated Press women’s poll at 19th.

Latson, a 5-8 guard from Miami who has earned this award earlier this season, averaged 26.5 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in a pair of road wins at then-No. 13 North Carolina and at Georgia Tech, and has claimed every ACC weekly frosh honor. On Monday, for the third time this season she swept both player and newcomer conference honors. She is averaging 25.2 points, and in the Seminoles’ 16 games, only once has she not scored 20 or more points. She scored 32 points in the win over the Yellow Jackets, giving her four 30-plus point games this season, the most at Florida State since Natasha Howard had five for the 2013-14 season. 

Illinois, under former Dayton coach Shauna Green,  has had a remarkable turnaround in her first season and on Sunday at home on New Year’s Day in Champaign the Illini (13-2, 3-1 Big Ten) completed a 2-0 week by stunning then-No. 12 Iowa, 90-86, the program’s first win over a ranked team at home in eight seasons and overall in four seasons. In the win over the Hawkeyes, NC State transfer Genesis Bryant had a career-high 24 points and gained co-player of the week honors in the Big Ten.

Since the 1987-88 season, the USBWA has named a women’s National Player of the Year. For the 2012-13 season, the national and weekly player award became named for Hall of Famer and former UCLA All-American Ann Meyers Drysdale while the national and weekly freshman award is being given in the name of former Tennessee all-American Tamika Catchings, which was applied at the start of the 2019-20 season.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the USBWA will name finalists for both individual awards, which is voted on by the entire membership of the USBWA.
The winners of the 2023 Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year and Tamika Catchings National Freshman of the Year will be announced and presented at the USBWA’s annual awards event on site at the 2023 NCAA Women's Final Four in Dallas.

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 at 814-574-1485.