Kelsey Plum's All-Star Season Leads to More Hardware in Dallas
Kelsey Plum just ran a “Boston” on the NCAA Women’s Basketball season. In the popular card came Spades when a team wins every book in a hand it’s called running a Boston. Friday night Plum added the John Wooden Award to the trophy case to finish off her illustrious collegiate career in style. The winner for both the women and men was announced Friday, April 7th during the telecast of the ESPN College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s® on ESPN2. Plum beat out Napheesa Collier (Connecticut), Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State), Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut), and A’Ja Wilson (South Carolina) to complete the award season sweep. Frank Mason of Kansas also capped off a pre stigious year by beating out Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Hart (Villanova), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) to win the Wooden award for the men.
If it was a coveted award in women’s basketball Plum won it this season. Plum was a perfect 9-9 from trophy land. She won the Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award and the Associated Press Player of the Year award. She also received Pac-12 Player of the Year honors and the espnW Player of the Year award.
Plum won the Dawn Staley Award that’s given to the most outstanding collegiate guard in the country.The Dawn Staley Award is named after South Carolina’s head coach Dawn Staley. Last Sunday, Staley won her first NCAA Championship and was recently named USA Basketball’s Head Olympic coach for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Kelsey also won the Nancy Lieberman Award, which honors the top point guard in the country.
“I’ve seen Pearl Moore, I’ve seen the Lynette Woodward, I’ve seen Jackie Stiles up close and personal – the greats of the game and you’re right there,” Lieberman told Plum. “There was a lot of great players that played this game, but very few players have changed the game. “You’ve done that. You’re not only a record holder, but you’ve changed how the game is being played. And that’s pretty stout to sit here with someone and to say that about you.”
Plum flew to Philadelphia to pick up the Dawn Staley Award on Thursday and then to Los Angeles to pick up the Wooden on Friday. Her former coach Mike Neighbors and her mom Katie were in attendance when she picked up both awards. “I’m grateful to the University of Washington and my coaches and my teammates,” said Plum, the only senior in the final five, while after accepting the award. “Something like that doesn’t happen without great people.”
Plum and UConn’s Geno Auriemma were supposed to meet in Dallas during the Final Four, but the meeting many envisioned wasn’t on the hardwood playing for a spot in the 2017 NCAA Championship game. The plan was for the best player in Division I, Plum, to face off against the best team in Division I, the UConn Huskies. Mississippi State had other ideas. The Bulldogs ended Plum’s season in Oklahoma City during a Sweet 16 matchup. Mississippi State followed that win with an overtime win over Baylor before finally, ending UConn’s season, championship hopes, and 111 game win streak in the Final Four.
Despite Mississippi St. playing spoiler to both teams’ seasons Plum and Auriemma did meet in Dallas when they were awarded the AP and Naismith Player and Coach of the year awards. While the consolation prizes might not have been the trophy Plum envisioned herself holding up in Dallas they are still some of the most coveted awards in sports. The all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history claimed several other awards while in Dallas for the Final Four last weekend.
“Kelsey’s accomplishments this season were remarkable, as well as record-breaking, which speaks to her consistency and desire to improve each and every season,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which oversees the Naismith Trophy.
Plum joins Stanford’s Candice Wiggins (2008), Stanford’s Jennifer Azzi (1990) and USC’s Cheryl Miller (1985) as the fourth Pac-12 player to win the Wade Trophy. The Wade Trophy is referred to as the Heisman Trophy of women’s college basketball.
“On behalf of the nine of us back here, we’d like to thank the WBCA for recognizing us,” Plum said during a WBCA awards ceremony. “They do a tremendous job in putting on this event. We’re really proud to honor our universities. “And we’re proud to play basketball as women and be role models.”
Plum finished with 3,527 career points – 134 more than previous record holder Jackie Stiles. She also surpassed Stiles, the former Missouri State standout, on the NCAA’s single-season scoring list with 1,109 points.
In her final game – a 75-64 loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 in Oklahoma City – Plum broke the NCAA career free throw record. A record that stood for 33 years before Plum broke it. She has 912 in her career.
After the loss to Mississippi St in the Sweet 16 in Oklahoma City Kelsey Plum tearfully tried to put her career in Washington into words.
“I’m so grateful to have been able to go to the University of Washington. You know, when I first came on campus, I had big dreams, dreams for our program, dreams as an individual. A lot of ’em came true. So for that, I’m very grateful. The university has been classy, just supporting me throughout this entire thing. There’s no way that I would have been able to accomplish the things that I have academically, athletically, build the relationships with my teammates. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life, not one of the easiest, but definitely one of the best. I’m really going to miss my teammates, just the people that I see every day. You know, my coaches, some of the staff, I’ve really built a family there. So it’s going to be difficult saying good-bye,” said Plum.