South Carolina's Cardoso headlines Ann Meyers Drysdale National Players of the Week

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – With the number of women’s ranked teams stacked up in the power conferences, especially the Pac-12, every game and performance is affecting not only the weekly polls but how the bracket will shape up when the 68-team NCAA field is revealed on Selection Sunday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Many of those individual situations have been referenced with the announcement of the USBWA weekly women’s awards.

We are inside a month now before the big day arrives for both the men and women.

The women’s side has so evolved that where once the wish was to get slotted to be able to dodge a Tennessee or Connecticut, now its individual players on certain teams who need to avoid facing until deep rounds on the road to the Final Four.

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, Feb. 18, this week’s five Ann Meyers Drysdale national honorees are South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso, Princeton guard Kaitlyn Chen, Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, Connecticut forward Aaliyah Edwards, and N.C. State guard Madison Hayes.

The Tamika Catchings freshman award goes to Southern California guard JuJu Watkins, and the National Team of the Week is Virginia Tech.

Four of this week’s winners have made multiple appearances this season.

Cardoso, a 6-7 senior center from Montes Claros, Brazil, returned from missing two games for top-ranked South Carolina to play with her country’s national team in an Olympic qualifying tournament just in time to be a key force in keeping the Gamecocks as the last Division I unbeaten women’s team. At Tennessee during the week, she had 18 points and ten rebounds in South Carolina’s 66-55 win over the Lady Vols in Knoxville, while Sunday she keyed a rally at home from a halftime deficit to beat Georgia, 70-56, scoring 16 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. “We don’t win without Kamilla tonight,” Coach Dawn Staley said after the victory over the Bulldogs. That also enabled the Gamecocks to set a record with their 43rd straight regular season triumph in the Southeastern Conference.

Chen, a 5-9 senior guard from San Marino, Calif., and reigning Ivy women’s player of the year, averaged 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists while shooting 56.5 percent from the floor to give No. 25 Princeton a pair of wins at Brown and Yale to be the first to clinch a berth in the annual four-team Ivy Madness tournament at Columbia next month in New York City. At Brown, she had 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds while at Yale in a game the Bulldogs were held to 25 points, she was 7-for-9 from the field to collect 18 points and and dish six assists with two blocked shots. This is her first USBWA honor of the season.

Clark, a 6-0 senior guard from West Des Moines, Iowa, and the most honored regular weekly USBWA honoree and reigning national player of the year quickly got the eight points she needed, including the historic three-pointer from her signature spot on the floor logo in Iowa’s arena in the 106-89 win over Michigan to become the NCAA Division I all-time women’s scorer before a packed house. She finished setting an Iowa game-record with 49 points bringing her career total to 3,569 points. She also dealt 13 assists and was 9-for-18 on three-point attempts. On Monday, she extended her record Big Ten weekly honors to 27, also her ninth weekly to tie for second most in a single season.

Edwards, a 6-3 senior forward from Ontario, Canada, had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Xavier on the road in Cincinnati and then at home against Georgetown she had 26 points, a career-best four steals, and 16 rebounds. On Monday, she earned another Big East player of the week award.

Hayes, a 6-0 senior guard from Chattanooga receiving her first-ever USBWA honor, had 16 points and five rebounds in the win at Notre Dame, and then Sunday in the overtime win against Georgia Tech, scored 15 points with 11 rebounds, including the game winner with 1:59 left in the extra period, leading to an 86-85 triumph.

Watkins, a 6-2 freshman guard from Los Angeles, has received multiple USBWA Tamika Catchings freshman honors, and in two wins last weekend helped USC move up from 10th to seventh Monday in the new Associated Press women’s poll. She had 33 points, eight rebounds and four steals in the 88-51 win at Oregon, and then scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, in a 58-50 win at then-No. 11 Oregon State. On Monday, she received a record third dual award from the Pac-12 making her both the player and freshman honoree from the conference, which has also given her a record 13 of 15 freshman awards to date.

Virginia Tech, which ESPN announced the network is bringing GameDay to its North Carolina game Sunday, had two wins, 61-56 at home over Duke, and then 86-70 at then-18 Louisville. In the first, past USBWA honoree Elizabeth Kitley was 13-for-17 for 34 points with 12 rebounds, and past USBWA honoree Georgia Amoore had 13 points. Then against the Cardinals, Kitley was 12-16 for 26 points with 13 rebounds and Amoore was 9-for-11 for 23 points and 10 assists. Kitley on Monday was named ACC player of the week. Sunday’s senior day game with UNC is a sellout. The Hokies moved up to No. 8 in the 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 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, USC; 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; Anastasiia Boldyreva, MTSU; Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Ayoka Lee, Kansas State; Honesty Scott-Grayson, Auburn (National); JuJu Watkins, Southern Cal (Freshman); 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)
• Week ending Feb. 4: Georgia Amoore, Virginia Tech; Madison Booker, Texas; Caitlin Clark, Iowa; Aaliyah Edwards, UConn; Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State (National); JuJu Watkins (Freshman); Mississippi State (Team)
• Week ending Feb. 11: Cameron Brink, Stanford; Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse; Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech; Chloe Moore-McNeil, Indiana; Hannah Stuelke, Iowa (National); Mary Ashley Stevenson, Purdue (Freshman); Oregon State (Team)
• Week ending Feb. 18: Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina; Kaitlyn Chen, Princeton; Caitlyn Clark, Iowa; Aaliyah Edwards, UConn; Madison Hayes, NC State (National); JuJu Watkins, USC (Freshman); Virginia Tech (Team).