Iowa's Clark headlines Ann Meyers Drysdale National Players of the Week

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) — A new season is bringing a new and expanded look to the weekly women’s and men’s collegiate awards from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association in handing out five national Ann Meyers Drysdale weekly honors to the women and five Oscar Robertson honors on the men’s side.

The Tamika Catchings freshman of the week on the women’s side will continue with the team of the week shoutout as will similar honors with the men.

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

Though the moves were in discussion prior to this season’s opening tip, on the women’s side they arrived at the right moment in the wake of the wildest opening week in which nine teams of the first 14 in the Associated Press preseason women’s poll fell, including No. 1 LSU, the reigning NCAA champion, and No. 2 UConn, which now holds the record of 566 straight appearances, snapping a one-week tie with Tennessee.

When it came time to reveal the new poll Monday afternoon, No. 6 South Carolina, which had been at the top all last season and a second-best 38 straight weeks before losing to Iowa in the NCAA semifinals in Dallas, made a record leap back to No. 1 after 2-0 routs of then-No. 10 Notre Dame in Paris and Sunday over then-
No. 14 Maryland at home in Columbia.

For their performances in the tumultuous week that ended Sunday, Nov. 12, the season’s first five Ann Meyers-Drysdale honorees are Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, the reigning USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award winner as the national player of the year; South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso; NC State guard Saniya Rivers; Stanford forward Kiki Iriafen; and Marquette forward Liza Karlen. The Tamika Catchings freshman honor goes to USC guard JuJu Watkins, while Colorado is the National Team of the Week.

Clark, a 6-0 senior guard and past USBWA national freshman of the year honoree, set the Hawkeyes women’s career scoring record at 2,813 points in Sunday’s win at Northern Iowa for a 3-0 week that elevated her team a step to second in Monday’s poll. For the week she averaged 32 points, 9 assists and 8.3 and Clark’s 12th career triple-double Sunday with 24 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds united her with former USBWA national honoree, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, as the only two players in NCAA Division I history to post triple-doubles in four different seasons.

A few days earlier on a neutral court in Charlotte, N.C., as Iowa beat then No. 8 Virginia Tech, Clark collected 44 points, six assists and eight rebounds, the fifth time in her career she has had at least 40 points, five rebounds and five assists. On Monday, she tied the Big Ten record for second most with her 19th player of the week award.

Kordoso, a 6-7 senior center out of Montes Claros, Brazil, who transferred from Syracuse to join the Gamecocks last season, used her enhanced role with the departure of Aliyah Boston, this past summer’s WNBA Rookie of the Year, and six other players, to average 16 points and 11 rebounds in the 100-71 win in Paris over Notre Dame and a 114-76 thrashing of Maryland, the program’s most points against a ranked opponent. She had 20 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocked shots in the first triumph, and 12 points off 5-for-7 from the field to go with seven rebounds in the latter.

Rivers, a 6-1 junior guard for NC State from nearby Wilmington who played first at South Carolina, averaged 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, with the highlight coming Sunday at home in Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, where she had 33 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists as the Wolfpack beat No. 2 UConn for the first time since 1998 to go from unranked to 14th in Monday’s poll. Her exploits earned her ACC Player of the Week honors.

Iriafen, a 6-3 junior forward for Stanford from Los Angeles, averaged 21.5 points and 12.0 rebounds, the first player to get double doubles in the first two games of the season since Cardinal assistant coach Erica McCall as a player in 2015-16. She was one of the key factors in Sunday’s upset of then-No. 9 Indiana that sent Stanford skyrocketing from a preseason ranking of 15th to familiar elite surroundings at No. 6 in Monday’s poll.

Marquette's 6-2 senior forward Liza Karlen had 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting to help the squad upset No. 23 Illini, Saturday, to knock them out of the poll, and her performance followed last week’s opening win on Monday when she scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against UT Martin. She shot 65 percent on 15-of-23 across the two games, her 11 made field goals on the Illini were just short of her personal best, and on Monday she was rewarded with her first Big East Player of the Week presentation.

Meanwhile, as senior stars move on to their next chapters, freshmen come along to capture the spotlight and that’s looking true of USC newcomer JuJu Watkins, a 6-2 guard from right there in Los Angeles, who bested Lisa Leslie’s debut mark with the program scoring 32 points with six rebounds and five assists in the No. 21 Trojans’ 83-74 upset of then-No. 7 Ohio State in Las Vegas. Watkins finished the week with a 25.0 points per game in two games, scoring 18 more against visiting Florida Gulf Coast to earn both the season’s first Pac-12 Freshman of the Week and the USBWA's Tamika Catchings Award salute.

In the win over the Buckeyes, Watkins shot 11-for-18 for 61.1 percent and on Monday night Watkins, rated the No. 1 recruit in the nation, was already making a case to repeat the honors next week, scoring 35 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a 93-42 win over LeMoyne of the Northeast Conference.

Earlier in the day USC also leaped all the way to 10th.

The Pac-12, likely to cease to exist after realignment of ten declared members next summer, but off to a 28-0 women’s hoops start through Sunday games, had the week’s team highlight, then No. 20 Colorado under JR Payne, stunning then-No. 1 LSU on opening day and zooming up to No. 5 in Monday’s AP Poll.

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 2024 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 2024 NCAA Women's Final Four in Cleveland.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 800 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.

2023-24 USBWA Women's Weekly Honors
• Week ending Nov. 12: Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina; Saniya Rivers, NC State; Kiki Iriafen, Stanford; Liza Karlen, Marquette (National); JuJu Watkins, USC (Freshman); Colorado (Team).