Cooke, Bransford are USBWA women's national players of the week

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – For the season’s 12th and final weekly women’s awards from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, for games ending Sunday, Feb. 26, South Carolina guard Zia Cooke is the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week, Notre Dame guard KK Bransford is the Tamika Catchings freshman recipient, and Iowa 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 team of the week.

Cooke, a 5-9 senior guard out of Toledo, averaged 15.5 points in a pair of wins for the top-ranked and reigning national champion Gamecocks, who have been No. 1 all season and unbeaten (29-0) currently on a 35-game win streak. Helping to wrap up the regular-season title in the Southeastern Conference, at Tennessee she scored 19 points, shooting 8-for-18, including 3-of-6 from deep. On Sunday, she scored 12 at home Sunday in Columbia against Georgia after pre-game ceremonies celebrating her and her sister seniors.

Bransford, a 5-5 guard out of Cincinnati, averaged 12.0 points per contest in a pair of key conference victories over Georgia Tech and Louisville, which sealed the outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in this week’s ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.. After she scored 10 points on 5-of-7 from the field in Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech, Bransford off the bench recorded 14 key points in the narrow road victory at Louisville on Sunday. Her performance earned her ACC freshman of the week accolades on Monday.

Though Iowa suffered a lopsided loss at Maryland that knocked the Hawkeyes out of a share of the Big Ten title, they came back Sunday in front of a sellout home crowd and played No. 2 Indiana – the Big Ten regular-season champs – in a game for the ages spurred by past USBWA honoree Caitlin Clark who threw down the winning shot as time expired, possibly previewing the conference championship matchup this Sunday in Minneapolis.

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.