LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -- For the second time this postseason, University of Kentucky sophomore guard Rhyne Howard has been tabbed a first-team All-America honoree, earning the honor Monday from the United States Basketball Writers Association.
The first-team honor automatically makes Howard a contender for the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year award, which will be announced Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
The USBWA, formed in 1956, has named a women's All-America team since the 1987-88 season. The association has also named a national player of the year – now known as the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award – since 1987-88 and a national coach of the year since 1989-90. In 2002-03, the USBWA initiated an award for the nation's top freshman, which Howard won last season. Howard joins Victoria Dunlap and A’dia Mathies as the only players in program history to earn All-America honors from the organization.
Last week, Howard became the first player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. She is 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), Dunlap (2010, USBWA and WBCA) and 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.
Last Friday, Howard was named one of four finalists for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding women’s college basketball player of the year. She is looking to become the first Kentucky player to win the prestigious award while she is believed to be the first to make the top-four finalists for the award, which started in 1983. Fans have the chance to vote for Howard and help her potentially win the award through April 1, by visiting naismithfanvote.com to cast their ballot. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote.
The All-America and Citizen Naismith Trophy finalist honors joins a list of accomplishments and accolades this season for Howard, who is also on several other 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 on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award and on the latest watch list for WBCA Wade Trophy.
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.