North Carolina's Ustby, Texas A&M's Barker are USBWA women's national players of the week

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – For the season’s seventh weekly women’s awards from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, for games ending Sunday, Jan. 22, North Carolina guard-forward Alyssa Ustby is the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week, Texas A&M forward Janiah Barker is the Tamika Catchings National Freshman of the Week and Middle Tennessee is the 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 team of the week.

Ustby, a 6-1 junior guard-forward from Rochester, Minn., helped the Tar Heels gain their first five-game winning streak in the Atlantic Coast Conference under Courtney Banghart, averaging 16.5 points, shooting 15-for-21 for 71.4 percent from the field, in home wins over then-13th ranked Duke – leading the conference – and Georgia Tech. In the Duke game she played 39 minutes after being on an IV that morning for an illness.

Barker, a 6-4 forward from Marietta, Ga., who was sidelined since suffering a broken right wrist Nov. 30 in the game with Kansas, returned Sunday, shooting 10-for-11 from the field scoring 24 points to lead the Aggies to a 75-73 win over Georgia and snap an eight-game losing streak.

Middle Tennessee (16-2, 9-0 C-USA) has been on a tear this season with the fourth longest active win streak in the nation at 14 games and dominating Conference USA continuing last week by beating Charlotte and Louisiana Tech. In the 65-41 road win over the 49ers, Kseniya Malashka scored 28 points while Savannah Wheeler scored 29 against the Lady Techsters. In the 68-50 win at Charlotte, Wheeler reached her 1,000th career point and Malashka her 1,500th point. On Monday the Blue Raiders under Rick Insell earned their way back into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2014.

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.