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

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – As January fades into February it is now apparent that the women's game has undergone an entire season of madness.

The occasional upsets have become plentiful. At some point back in the day the growth of the sport was spoken of evolvement from packed little gyms to half-full big arenas.

But this season almost every day the words "sellout crowd" have been applied to describe the atmosphere at marquee attractions in those big arenas.

Teams are beating teams with high rankings attached either first time or first-time long time.

And late last week in the aftermath of the suspenseful South Carolina/LSU top 10 battle, ratings reports show that going head-to-head on ESPN against an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat on TNT the women's game won the national night with an average of 1.56 million viewers versus 1.38 million viewers for the NBA telecast, according to Sports Media Watch.

Choosing the weekly USBWA women's honorees has been similar to the NCAA tournament committee going through the process assembling the bracket – what looks pretty solid at the midpoint of all the collected information becomes much different when the final result is ready for notification.

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. 28, this week's five Ann Meyers Drysdale national honorees are Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, the reigning national player of the year; South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso; Penn State guard Makenna Marisa; West Virginia guard JJ Quinerly; and Oklahoma forward Skylar Vann.

The Tamika Catchings freshman award goes to Notre Dame guard Hannah Hidalgo and the National Team of the Week is Oregon State.

Clark, a 6-0 senior guard from West Des Moines, Iowa, the most honored player this season by the USBWA, is receiving her seventh weekly citation for 2023-24 after leading the Hawkeyes (19-2, 8-1 Big Ten) back to No. 3 in Monday's Associated Press women's poll by scoring 38 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dealing six assists with two steals in a win over Nebraska. She has 53 career double-doubles and leads the nation in scoring with 32 points per game. Going into Wednesday's game at Northwestern, she is fourth on the NCAA career scoring list with 3,389 points, close behind former stars Jackie Stiles (3,393) of Mississippi State; Kelsey Mitchell (3,402) of Ohio State, and 138 away from NCAA record holder Kelsey Plum (3,527) of Washington.

Cardoso, a 6-7 transfer from Syracuse and a senior center from Montes Claros, Brazil, first helped the rally with the No. 1 Gamecocks (19-0), from 11 down to the host LSU Tigers, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists. On Sunday, she had 23 points against visiting Vanderbilt, holding its best 20-game start in 17 years. She was just two points short of her best career performance. The SEC Player of the Week leads the conference shooting 60 percent from the field. She leads South Carolina with 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 53 blocked shots and is honored for a third time this season by the USBWA.

Marisa, a 5-11 fifth-year senior guard from McMurray, Pa., has been Penn State's leading scorer and All-Big Ten first team honoree. Helping to continue what is now a five-game win streak and a solid fourth place in the standings, she became the seventh Lady Lion to reach 2,000 career points and joins Clark and Indiana's Mackenzie Holmes as three active Big Ten players who are above 2,000. She scored 20 points against Northwestern before Penn State handed Maryland its worst drubbing, 112-76, with Marisa scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 from the field, including 4-for-6 on 3-pointers.

Quinerly, a 5-8 junior guard from Norfolk, Va., had 22 of her career-high 31 points in the second half to lead West Virginia to an 84-78 win over Iowa State, scoring the last 11 points and making a key defensive stop to seal the win. In helping the Mountaineers (17-2, 6-2) hold third place in the Big 12 she leads the team with a 19.2 scoring average and 65 steals.

Vann, a 6-0 senior forward from Edmond, Okla., averaged 20 points and nine rebounds in two Big-12 wins by Oklahoma (13-6, 7-1) at then-No. 10 Texas and against Kansas. Against the Longhorns she had 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists while against the Jayhawks she had 21 points and seven rebounds. Across the two games she shot 62.5 percent from the field. On Monday she was named Big 12 Player of the Week.

Hidalgo, a 5-6 freshman guard from Haddonfield, N.J., who has won the USBWA award twice previously this season, averaged 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in two games. In a narrow loss to then-No. 22 Syracuse, she had 23 points. She followed up leading the Irish to a win at then-No. 8 UConn with a Notre Dame freshman record 34 points, to go with 10 rebounds and six assists, breaking the mark of 33 points set by Michelle Marciniak in 1991. She leads the NCAA in steals at 5.1 per game and total at 97. On Monday she received her ninth ACC weekly rookie award, one short of the ACC record last season by Florida State's Ta'Nya Latson, who was the USBWA National Freshman of the Year. 

After entering the poll last week at No. 25, Oregon State (17-3, 6-3) avoided a quick exit, facing two Pac-12 ranked opponents at home in Corvallis by sweeping then-No. 3 Colorado, 68-62, and then-No. 16 Utah 91-66 in a pair of upsets. In Friday's win over the Buffaloes, Donovyn Hunter had 16 points as did Talia von Oelhoffen. When it came to the Utes, Raegen Beers was 8-for-8 from the field and scored 20, while Hunter had 17 points and 10 rebounds, reserve Timea Gardiner had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Kelsey Rees had 15 points and six rebounds.

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).
• Week ending Jan. 28: Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina; McKenna Marisa, Penn State; JJ Quinerly, West Virginia; Skylar Vann, Oklahoma (National); Hannah Hidalgo, Notre Dame (Freshman); Oregon State (Team).