Rhyne Howard named AP 1st Team All-America

LEXINGTON, Ky. University of Kentucky women’s basketball sophomore guard Rhyne Howard has been tabbed a first-team All-America honoree by the Associated Press, becoming the first player in program history to receive first-team honors by the AP, which started its All-America teams in 1994-95.

Howard becomes the fifth Kentucky player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from a major organization, joining Pam Browning (1977, Street and Smith’s), Valerie Still (1981, 82, 83, Street and Smith’s), Victoria Dunlap (2010, USBWA and WBCA) and A’dia Mathies (2012, USBWA). Howard became the 11th All-America honoree in program history last season when she earned All-America honorable mention by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

“Rhyne is the definition of an All-American and one of those rare players that impacts the game in absolutely every statistical category,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She’s so much more than a prolific scorer. She has zero weaknesses, which makes her the most dynamic player in college basketball. Defensively, she makes incredible plays that you just don’t see every day and her effort on the boards is exceptional and a difference maker. Even considering her statistical prowess in every category, her most special quality is her ability to come through in the clutch. There is no player in America who I want to have the ball at a crucial time more than Rhyne Howard. She is a true All-American and we’re proud of all she has and will continue to accomplish.”

The All-America honor joins a list of accomplishments and accolades this season for Howard, who is also on several national player of the year ballots or lists. Most recently, Howard was named a top-five finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award, which names the top small forward of the year in collegiate women’s basketball. Fans have the opportunity to vote for Rhyne for the award at www.hoophallawards.com. Howard is also a top-10 semifinalist for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award and on the latest watch list for WBCA Wade Trophy and Dawn Staley Award. She will participate in a Twitter Chat at 2 p.m. ET today to honor her All-America honor using the hashtag #APBKW.

The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, was recently named by league coaches the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, First-Team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team. She was a four-time honoree of the SEC Player of the Week award and was espnW National Player of the Week in January.

Howard had a sensational sophomore season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats and ranking second nationally with 23.4 points per game. The guard also led UK with 6.5 rebounds per game and 62 steals, while she was second on the team with 29 blocks and third on the team with 68 assists. Howard hit 84 3-pointers this season, which was the most in program history in a single season, topping the previous record of 81 set by Sara Potts in 2004-05. Her 3.1 3-pointers per game ranked top-10 nationally while her 633 total points ranked fifth nationally. Howard’s 23.4 scoring average was the most for a UK player under Matthew Mitchell and the fourth-best average in program history.

Howard placed her name all over the Kentucky record books this season as the only player in program history to score 25 or more points in five straight games while she was the second player to score 20 or more points in eight straight games. Howard had two stretches during the season of 20 or more points in eight straight games, including each of her last eight games played after missing three games with a finger injury.

Two of the top-12 scoring performances in program history have come this season by Howard. The first was her 37 points in UK's win vs. Tennessee followed by a school-record tying 43 points at Alabama. She is the only player in program history to score 37+ points in consecutive games and the first to hit seven or more 3-pointers in consecutive games. On top of earning six double-doubles this season, Howard became the second fastest UK player ever to reach 1,000 career points and ended the season with 1,158 career points which ranks 27th on UK’s all-time scoring list.