LEXINGTON, Ky. – The awards keep piling up for Kentucky’s Victoria Dunlap as The Associated Press selected the standout senior as its Southeastern Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. The 6-foot-2 forward also was a unanimous choice for the All-SEC first team.
Dunlap, named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-SEC by the league coaches prior to the conference tournament, is considered one of the nation’s most versatile players. She is listed in the top half of eight SEC statistical categories, including leading the league in scoring (17.0), field-goal percentage (.463) and steals per game (3.2). She also ranks fourth in rebounding (8.8 rpg), tied for fifth in blocks (1.5 bpg) and sixth in free-throw shooting percentage (.706). She is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top five in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals.
"It's a great honor to be named SEC Player of the Year by The Associated Press,” Dunlap said. “Really, all the credit goes to my teammates and coaching staff for helping me become the best player I can be. None of this would be possible without them. I'm so proud to work hard every day for this team and the University of Kentucky. We now have our sights on winning the National Championship."
Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) has scored double figures in 29 of 31 games this season, including 20 consecutive. With eight double-doubles and 11 games with 20 or more points, she has helped lead the 17th-ranked Wildcats to their second-straight 20-win season (24-8) and second-straight NCAA appearance for the first time since the 1982-82 teams accomplished that feat.
At season’s end, Dunlap undoubtedly will be revered as one of the greatest players in UK Hoops history as she ranks in the top 10 of 14 career lists, including No. 2 all-time in scoring (1,810), rebounding (1,083), blocks (174), steals (304), free throws made (437), free throws attempted (702) and games played (131). She needs only five steals to tie UK’s career record of 309 set by Stacey Reed (1991-95).
"I am extremely happy that Victoria has been named SEC Player of the Year,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “In my mind there could be no other choice. She was very important to our team and she dominated our conference statistically. She is not only the best player in the SEC but she is truly one of the elite players in the country. It is a privilege to coach her."
Joining Dunlap on the first team are Tennessee's Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen, along with Georgia's Porsha Phillips and Alabama's Tierney Jenkins.
The second team is Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons, also named AP’s SEC Newcomer of the Year, LSU's LeSondra Barrett, Mississippi's Kayla Melson, Arkansas' C'eira Ricketts and Vanderbilt's Jence Rhoads.
Sophomore guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) was named honorable mention All-SEC with Georgia’s Jasmine James, Auburn’s Alli Smalley, Arkansas’ Sarah Watkins, Tennessee’s Angie Bjorklund, Vanderbilt’s Stephanie Holzer, South Carolina’s Ieasia Walker and LSU’s Adrienne Webb.
No. 17/16 Kentucky earned its eighth bid to the NCAA Tournament with a No. 4 seed in the Spokane Regional. The Wildcats will square off with 13th-seeded Hampton (25-6) in the first round Saturday, March 19 at University of New Mexico Arena in Albuquerque, N.M., at approximately 6:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com and also broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.