UConn's Bueckers headlines Ann Meyers Drysdale National Players of the Week

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – The upsets continue to happen, as evidenced by the latest shuffle behind No. 1 South Carolina when this week’s Associated Press women’s poll was released Monday, following a weekend that included two historical and monumental moments evolving from the competition in the Pac-12.

Across the country once more there was no shortage of candidates to be added to weekly salutes in this space.

The six individuals are quite guard heavy though in this era of position-less basketball they can operate from anywhere on the court.

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

For their performances in the period through Sunday, Jan. 21, this week’s five Ann Meyers Drysdale national honorees are Marshall guard Abby Beeman, UConn guard and past USBWA National player of the Year Paige Bueckers, Syracuse guard Dyaisha Fair, North Carolina guard Deja Kelly, and Ohio State forward Cotie McMahon.

The Tamika Catchings freshman award goes to Virginia guard Kymora Johnson and the National Team of the Week is Stanford.

Beeman, a 5-4 graduate guard from Ridgeley, W. Va., in two wins has helped Marshall (13-5, 7-0 Sun Belt) get off to the best start in conference play in 35 years. In a 90-60 win over Old Dominion, she became one of only five players in Division I to have multiple triple-doubles this season, after scoring 15 points, with 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. "I just think that we are a resilient group," she said. "We got down and knew we had to put our foot on the gas and get going and once we did the momentum and the crowd and us hitting shots carried us through to the end." She followed against Coastal Carolina with 22 points and seven assists.

Bueckers, a 6-0 redshirt junior guard who is the only freshman to have won the USBWA's Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, has returned from a missed season due to injury to help guide Connecticut back to the Top 10 after dropping to the Huskies’ lowest ranking in 30 years. She started the week with 32 points against Seton Hall. “Paige understands better and better that this is her team now,” said Pirates coach Tony Bozzella. “That’s why she is an All-American. She’s laser focused.” She then scored 20 as the team’s win streak reached 12 in beating DePaul.

Fair, a 5-5 graduate guard from Rochester, Minn., who followed her coach last season from Buffalo when Felisha Legette-Jack returned to her alma mater at Syracuse, helped get the Orange (16-2, 6-1 ACC) back into the AP Poll Monday after a pair of wins resulted in the best start since the 2013 season. She scored 31 points, propelled by a program-record nine makes from deep in a rally from an 18-point deficit over then-No. 15 Florida State and then scored 22 with six assists and six three-pointers over Pitt. On Monday, she was named the ACC's Player of the Week.

Kelly, a 5-8 senior guard from San Antonio, Texas, averaged 25 points and five assists in UNC wins over Georgia Tech and over then-No. !3 Louisville at home in Chapel Hill before a near-sellout crowd in Carmichael Arena, handing the Cardinals their first league loss and skyrocketing the Heels to the top of the conference. She scored 27 against the Yellow Jackets and then had 23 helped by 14-of-16 from the line against Louisville. She leads the team with 16.4 points per game.

McMahon, a 6-0 sophomore forward from Centerville, Ohio, had a career-best 33 points and 12 rebounds in Ohio State’s upset of then-No. 2 Iowa in overtime, propelling the Buckeyes before a sellout crowd from 18th to 12th in the latest AP Poll, after the win and overcoming Caitlin Clark’s 45 points for the Hawkeyes. Earlier in the week to help her 13.9 scoring average and 5.5 rebounding mark, she had 14 points and nine rebounds with three assists in a win over Maryland. On Monday she earned her first Big Ten Player of the Week honor.

Johnson, a 5-7 freshman guard from Charlottesville, right in Virginia’s backyard, had 35 points in the Cavaliers’ upset of Florida State after having 16 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists previously in a setback to Notre Dame. In the two games she was 20-for-34 for 58.8 percent from the field. The only other freshman in Virginia history to score 35 points in a game was Dawn Staley, the coach of the current No. 1 team in the nation at South Carolina. On Monday, following the Cavaliers’ first win over a ranked opponent since 2011, she was named ACC Freshman of the Week.

After an historic weekend for all basketball without regard to gender, Stanford moved from eighth to sixth in the AP Poll following a sweep of Pac-12 opponents Oregon Friday and Oregon State Sunday in front of near sellouts at home in Maples Pavilion. The sweep enabled 70-year-old Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer, a past USBWA national honoree, to tie and then pass retired Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski to achieve the most career wins at 1,203 and, in her case, still counting. In the sweep Kiki Iriafen, a USBWA weekly honoree earlier this season, had 21 points and 15 rebounds against the Ducks followed by a career-high 36 points shooting 16-26 from the field with 12 rebounds against the Beavers.

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 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.

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, Southern Cal (Freshman); Colorado (Team).
• Week ending Nov. 19: Cameron Brink, Stanford; Taylor Jones, Texas; Ayoka Lee, Kansas State; Lucy Olsen, Villanova; Harmoni Turner, Harvard (National); Hannah Hidalgo, Notre Dame (Freshman); Baylor (Team).
• Week ending Nov. 26: River Baldwin, NC State; Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Maggie Doogan, Richmond; Aneesah Morrow, LSU; KiKi Rice, UCLA (National); Zanai Barnett-Gay, Navy (Freshman); Princeton (Team).
• Week ending Dec. 3: Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina; Yvonne Ejim, Gonzaga; Rori Harmon, Texas; Cottie McMahon, Ohio State; Anne Simon, Maine (National); Madison Booker, Texas (Freshman); Southern Miss (Team).
• Week ending Dec. 10: Lauren Betts, UCLA; Paige Bueckers, UConn; Jalynn Gregory, MTSU; Quinesha Lockett, Toledo; Alssa Pili, Utah (National); Zoe Brooks, NC State (Freshman); Washington (Team).
• Week ending Dec. 17: Azana Baines, Seton Hall; Breanna Campbell, Marshall; Jessika Carter, Mississippi State; Aubrey Griffin, UConn; Liz Karlen, Marquette (National) Mikaylah Williams, LSU (Freshman); VCU (Team).
• Week ending Dec. 24: Alexis Andrews, Charleston; Talya Brugler, Saint Joseph’s; Caitlin Clark, Iowa; McKenzie Forbes, Southern Cal; Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State (National); Hannah Hidalgo, Notre Dame (Freshman); TCU (Team).
• Week ending Dec. 31: Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Londynn Jones, UCLA; Lucy Olsen, Villanova; Jaylyn Sherrod, Colorado; Alyssa Ustby, North Carolina (National); Mataya Gayle, Penn (Freshman); Syracuse (Team).
• Week ending Jan. 7: Madison Booker, Texas; Avery Brittingham, UT-Arlington; Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Rickea Jackson, Tennessee; Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech (National); Meghan Andersen, Fairfield (Freshman); North Carolina (Team).
• Week ending Jan. 14: Sara Bejedi, Florida State; Anastasii Boldyreva, Middle Tennessee; Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Ayoka Lee, Kansas State; Honesty Scott-Grayson, Auburn; JuJu Watkins (USC); Iowa State (Team).
• Week ending Jan. 21: Abby Beeman, Marshall; Paige Bueckers, UConn; Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse; Deja Kelly, North Carolina; Cotie McMahon, Ohio State (National); Kymora Johnson, Virginia (Freshman); Stanford, (Team).