LEXINGTON, Ky. — University of Kentucky women’s basketball junior guard Rhyne Howard has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 Watch List, making her a top candidate for national player of the year for the second straight season.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2021 John R. Wooden Award Women’s Player of the Year presented by Wendy’s. Players not chosen to the late season list are still eligible for the Wooden Award™ National Ballot. The national ballot consists of 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the Wooden Award. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games. The Wooden Award All American Team™ will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2021 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s following the NCAA Tournament in April.
Last season, Howard was named to the Wooden Award All-America Team making her a finalist for the prestigious award. Howard is the only player on this year’s late season top 20 watch list that was named All-America by the organization last season.
Howard continues to show why she is the best player in women's college basketball, leading top-15 Kentucky all season long. The Wildcats have several wins against ranked opponents, including winning back-to-back games vs. No. 10 Arkansas and No. 12 Mississippi State to start league play. The wins for Kentucky marked the first time the program has ever beat consecutive top-15 league opponents and only the third time it has secured consecutive wins against top-15 ranked foes and the first since December 2013.
Her best performances this season have come against highly ranked opponents. In seven games against ranked foes, Howard is hitting nearly 50 percent from the field and averaging 23.6 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game with 22 assists, 14 steals and four blocks. In four straight games against ranked opponents – vs. Arkansas, at Mississippi State, at Texas A&M and vs. South Carolina – Howard scored a combined 111 points including 33 at Mississippi State and 32 against the Gamecocks. In those four games, Howard combined for 33 rebounds, 18 assists and five steals. Against State, Howard put the team on her back late in the game scoring 25 of her 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. In fact, Howard scored 25 of Kentucky's final 31 points in the game, including 10 of the team's 14 overtime points.
The preseason favorite for national player of the year, Howard has lived up to the hype so far in 2020-21, leading Kentucky with 19.3 points per game and adding 6.9 rebounds per game. The guard leads Kentucky with 32 3-pointers made and is second on the team with 52 assists and 24 steals. In SEC play, Howard is averaging 22.1 points per game with 7.4 rebounds per game and leads UK with 33 assists.
Howard continues her move up the career record book at UK, ranking fourth all-time in career 3-pointers made with 190, while her 1,428 career points scored ranks 17th all-time. With 18 more points, Howard will move into the top 15 all-time, passing Tiffany Wait. On the year, Howard has led UK in scoring, rebounding and assists seven times.
Fans are encouraged to visit RhyneHoward.com to keep up with the junior's campaign to become a unanimous All-America selection and national player of the year.