NCAA Women: 2017 All-Australian Awards
With six members of last season’s All-Australian teams either graduating or sitting out this season due to transfers, there were plenty of spots open for this season’s selections. The underclassmen featured heavily, with three freshmen and five sophomores among the 15 players selected. However, it was the junior class that shone brightest, landing three players in the All-Australian first team and an astonishing seven selections overall.
Bonus: Each player’s season stats are all listed for you in the one spot (scroll down)!
Player Of The Year
Alicia FROLING | Southern Methodist
Froling only just missed out on the Player of the Year title last season, and with 2015/16 winner Nicole Seekamp graduating after last season, the award was Froling’s to lose this season. Players such as Kristy Wallace and Stephanie Reid compiled outstanding resumes this season, but it is impossible to look past a player who tallied, on average, a double-double every second game. Leading the team to a Round of 16 berth in the WNIT, 2016/17 was not only Froling’s first trip to the national postseason, but also her first winning season with the Mustangs, and the team has Froling to thank for many of those wins. That is evident when opening the SMU record book, which is already littered with the Australian’s name even with one season to play.
— SMU Women's BBall (@SMUBasketballW) March 22, 2017
Freshman Of The Year
Alex SHARP | Wake Forest
It was tough to split Alex Sharp and Eliza West for this honour, as comparisons between a mid-major Freshman of the Year and a power conference All-Freshman team selection can be difficult. In the end, Sharp’s outstanding all-round performance in a conference featuring such powerhouses as Notre Dame, Louisville, and Duke clinched the award for the Australian national youth team representative. Sharp finished in the top 10 for ACC freshmen in rebounding, three point shooting, and assists to emerge as one of the premier first-year players in the conference.
Congrats to Alex Sharp on being named to the ACC All-Freshman Team by the league's media this afternoon!.
— Wake Women's Hoops (@WakeWBB) February 28, 2017
Most Improved Player
Grace LENNOX | Eastern Illinois
Alanna Smith stepped up her game in the second half of the season, and Courtney Woods showed season-long improvement, but Grace Lennox’s improvement was almost mind-boggling. It is not especially unusual to see a few players double their scoring output from season to season, but rarely do they start from a base of 8 and improve to 16 points per game, which is what Lennox did this season. Lennox accomplished this whilst improving her field goal percentage from 35% to 43%, and also improved her assist, steal, and turnover numbers. It is almost a wonder how a team with such a player on their roster could only put together 9 wins in a 28 game campaign. However, with the team finishing in the bottom 50 of the nation for scoring defence, all the offence in the world couldn’t overcome that glaring deficiency.
Grace Lennox earns First Team All-OVC Honors… top-10 in the OVC for points, assists, steals, and minutes played per game. https://t.co/CzWtAvimwm
— EIUPanthers.com (@EIU_Panthers) February 28, 2017
Defensive Player Of The Year
Courtney WEST | Portland State
This award could have gone to any of a number of players, but in the end Courtney West’s impact on her side was impossible to overlook. To lead not just her team, but her conference, in blocks by over 40, made the Sutherland product an imposing presence even before taking into account her play in general. That shot blocking prowess doubled as an ability to alter opponents’ shots as West almost scared opposition players out of shots at times. Although Portland State finished in the middle of the pack in the Big Sky, West’s defense played a large part in the Vikings securing a couple more wins than they may have been expected to in a solid if unspectacular season for the team.
— Portland State WBB (@ViksWBB) February 24, 2017
G | Kristy WALLACE | Baylor
Kristy Wallace barely missed out on the All-Australian First Team last season, and her vastly improved performance this season has seen the junior become the pre-eminent backcourt player amongst the Australians in women’s college basketball. Having lost her starting position midway through the 2015/16 season, there was no danger of anything similar occurring this time around as the Queenslander delivered a number of outstanding performances. The leader of the Baylor backcourt, Wallace more than doubled her assists tally from last season to finish the year in the top 15 in the nation with 5.6 per game. However, this improved assist tally had little to no negative impact on Wallace’s scoring output, which hovered around the 8 points per game mark for the third consecutive season. Long known as an outstanding defender, Wallace’s improvement at the offensive end has made her a weapon at both ends of the floor, which was vital for Baylor this season and will continue to be going forward. Wallace will also be looking to catch the eye of WNBA scouts next season. Teammate Alexis Jones, who was selected with the #12 pick of the WNBA draft this year, was effusive in her praise of Wallace, remarking on her ability to shoot, create, and defend and stating that she could certainly see Wallace reach the WNBA.
Despite an outstanding individual season for Wallace, Baylor once again fell at the Elite Eight stage despite being tipped to reach the Final Four, going down to eventual finalists Mississippi State. Wallace will head into 2017/18 as the most experienced player on the team, and will once again be expected to lead the side from the point guard position.
— Baylor Lady Bears (@BaylorWBB) March 7, 2017
G | Stephanie REID | Buffalo
Famous for a buzzer-beater that sent her Buffalo side dancing last season, Stephanie Reid made a name for herself in many other ways this season. Finishing the season in the national top 10 in assists, assists per game, and assist-to-turnover ratio, Reid also tied the Buffalo school record for assists in a game with 16 dimes in an 89-75 loss to Ball State. Reid also demolished the school’s season assists record, racking up 233 for the season, over 30 more than the previous record. As if being an outstanding facilitator wasn’t enough, Reid also averaged 11.5 points per game, and secured a position the MAC All-Defensive team, confirming her status as an outstanding two-way player.
— Louie Spina (@UBLouieSpina) February 25, 2017
G/F | Courtney WOODS | Northern Illinois
Playing on one of the highest scoring teams in the nation has given three-point specialist Courtney Woods plenty of chances to fire away, and this season she has taken then with aplomb. Woods finished the season in the top 50 in the nation for three-point percentage, increasing her rate from 34.2% to 39.5%. This turned Woods’ outside shooting into one of Northern Illinois’ chief attacking weapons, and it is little surprise that the sophomore sat in the top 15 in the nation for three pointers attempted and made this season. One of the most reliable scorers on the team, Woods scored in double figures in all bar 3 games this season, a testament to both her ability and the team’s faith in her to put points on the board, which she has repaid in spades.
Three point shooting was hardly Woods’ only asset though. The sophomore finished third on the Northern Illinois team with 46 steals for the season, and also collected over 5 rebounds per game to provide impact in a variety of ways.
— NIU WBB (@GoHuskiesWBB) February 20, 2017
F | Alicia FROLING | Southern Methodist
An All-AAC Second Team selection for the second year running, Alicia Froling can now be considered one of the premier players in one of the better conferences in college basketball, and with good reason. 17 double doubles in 34 games is enough in itself to explain Froling’s outstanding season, but it was hardly the only highlight of her campaign. The junior finished a single rebound shy of averaging a double-double for the season, and shot at a season average of over 50% for the first time in her career. This helped Froling improve her scoring from 12.3 to 14.3 points per game and further cement her place as the top Australian in women’s college basketball. Whilst there were no 30-20 games like last season’s effort against Cincinnati, other performances were similarly impressive in sometimes trying circumstances. Of particular note is a 16 point, 12 rebound, 5 block effort in an 83-48 home loss to Connecticut where Froling was outstanding despite an absence of support against the seemingly unstoppable Huskies. A regular member on the weekly conference honour roll before clinching an All-Conference selection, Froling still has one more season to play in which to set herself up for a potential shot at the WNBA.
C | Megan MCKAY | Saint Mary’s
Megan McKay burst onto the scene in her freshman year, and little changed in the Western Australian’s second season at Saint Mary’s. An occasional starter in 2015/16, McKay made a spot in the starting five her own this season, starting 29 of the team’s 33 games. Tallying 9 double-doubles during the campaign, McKay improved her scoring and rebounding markedly even in the wake of an outstanding freshman year. The Western Australian became the Gaels’ main post presence, and was the team’s second highest scorer with 10.7 points per game, and also pulled down 7.8 rebounds per game to lead the team. McKay could have been considered slightly unlucky to not receive a West Coast Conference second team selection, but was rewarded with an honourable mention following an outstanding season.
G | Grace LENNOX | Eastern Illinois
The most improved Australian player of the season, Grace Lennox was a shining light for Eastern Illinois in an otherwise forgettable season for the Panthers in which the team won just 9 of 28 games. An all-conference first team selection, the Tasmanian was responsible for almost 25% of the team’s scoring, improving her scoring average from 8.8 to 16.2 points per game as her offensive efficiency exploded in the process. Testament to Lennox’s importance to the team was the fact that she finished in the top 5 in the nation for average playing time, spending just two minutes per game on the bench. Able to score in a variety of ways and also find shots for teammates – Lennox averaged 4.2 assists this season – Lennox also improved at the defensive end to secure almost two steals per game. Eastern Illinois will be bringing in a new coach for next season, and much of that new coach’s success will revolve around how well they can ensure Lennox’s impact remains high.
G | Rachel Brewster | Utah State
Despite being in just her second season of college basketball, Rachel Brewster was Utah State’s leading scorer amongst returning players. The sophomore also came into the season as one of the leaders of the team, particularly in the wake of fellow Australian Funda Nakkasoglu’s transfer to Florida following the 2015/16 campaign. Alongside fellow Australian Eliza West, Brewster excelled yet again, leading the team with 13.4 points per game, and also finishing in the top 3 in the team for rebounds, assists, and steals. Although the stats themselves show that Brewster is an outstanding all-round player for the Aggies, the numbers don’t do justice to the leadership she brings to the side. In an exceedingly young side, the experience that Brewster has accrued from starting for two seasons has been vital to the team, not dissimilar to Georgia Stirton’s impact at Gonzaga last season. This was particularly evident in a conference game against UNLV. Following a brawl that saw four players from each side ejected, Brewster was forced to do everything and more, with the sophomore’s character shining through as she collected a double-double in a stinging overtime loss.
After being named to the all-freshman team a year ago, Rachel Brewster earns honorable mention all-MW accolades this season. pic.twitter.com/gkLSipXYgB
— USU Women's Hoops (@USUWBasketball) March 6, 2017
F | Geraldine MCCORKELL | Idaho
McCorkell was solid throughout her first two seasons in college and this season stepped up even further to continue her role as perhaps Idaho’s strongest presence in the paint. However, despite leading the team with 6.7 rebounds per game, McCorkell was no one-trick pony. The junior was a reasonable option from outside, and whilst a 32% average from three-point range wasn’t world-beating, it gave opposition defenses something additional to think about when McCorkell had the ball in her hands on the perimeter and also helped the junior to up her scoring average from 11.4 to 12.7 points per game, which led to the junior breaking the career 1000 points barrier late in the season. Whilst it wasn’t the same all-conquering conference season as 2015/16 for Idaho, the Vandals still compiled a solid 19-15 record, with McCorkell starting 26 of the 33 games in which she featured. Best of all, the Vandals return all six players that started more than 10 games this season, so there may yet be a successful senior season for McCorkell.
— Idaho WBB (@VandalsWBB) March 24, 2017
F | Alanna SMITH | Stanford
Alanna Smith came into the 2016/17 season with obvious potential after a reasonable freshman season, but come Christmas that potential remained untapped as Smith remained a decent bench option for Stanford but little more. However, something clicked in the second half of the season and Smith quickly became one of Stanford’s most reliable contributors. A 24 point effort in just 20 minutes of playing time against Oregon in early January may have been the catalyst for the marked improvement. Prior to that game, Smith averaged 4.9 points per game; by the end of the season that mark was 9.1 points. The sophomore was named to the Pac-12 All Tournament team for her outstanding play, particularly in the team’s upset win in the championship game over Oregon State. Smith then parlayed that form into five double figure scoring efforts and a pair of double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament to complete an outstanding back half of the season, and all but assured herself of a starting berth in the Stanford lineup for next season. This was backed up by former Stanford teammate Erica McCall, a player who was one of Smith’s mentors at Stanford before being drafted to the WNBA with the #17 pick this year. McCall is just one of a no doubt growing number of people who see Smith as forging a path that will one day lead to the WNBA, and remarked as such on draft day, praising both Smith’s skillset and her aggressiveness.
"I never thought I'd experience something like this." – Alanna Smith
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 6, 2017
C | Courtney WEST | Portland State
To describe Courtney West as a blocking machine would be accurate, but it would also do a disservice to the other areas of her game which were so vital to Portland State throughout this season. Denied an all-conference selection only by the baffling decision of Big Sky officials to select 12 guards across three all-conference teams, West compiled an outstanding first season in Division I following her transfer from NAIA school Southern Oregon. As one of only two Portland State players to start all of the team’s games this season, West quickly emerged as a leader for the team, eventually averaging 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The sophomore’s ability to swat away shots was her crowning glory, though. Topping the conference in blocks with 94, more than 40 ahead of fellow Australian Samantha Roscoe of North Dakota, West’s ability to alter shots played havoc with opposition teams at times. This proved vital during the conference tournament, as West helped Portland State play far above their #7 seeding to reach the semi-finals.
G | Eliza WEST | Utah State
Eliza West was hailed by Utah State coach Jerry Finkbeiner as having the potential to make everyone forget about Funda Nakkasoglu. Whilst that may have proven to be hyperbole, West still compiled an outstanding season which led to her being named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. A pocket rocket at the point, West’s speed was one of her main weapons, which she used to get to the basket and finish with at times surprising ease considering her 5’5 stature. This helped the freshman to average 7.6 points per game, good enough for third on the Utah State team, but her assist numbers were almost mind-boggling. West racked up 146 dimes for the season, which translated to almost 20% of Utah State’s baskets, and more than double the number of assists any other player tallied. West also led the team in steals to make herself a weapon at both ends and fully earn her conference Freshman of the Year award.
Eliza West is just the second Aggie to earn all-conference Freshman of the Year honors! pic.twitter.com/W9bdAR6o0E
— USU Women's Hoops (@USUWBasketball) March 6, 2017
G | Carly TURNER | Saint Mary’s
With Lauren Nicholson and Hannah Kaser graduating after the 2015/16 season, Carly Turner was the most experienced of the three Australians on the Saint Mary’s roster this season. That almost seemed to unlock an improved maturity from Turner, who lifted her performance significantly as her playing time increased. The junior improved her scoring, rebounding, and assist numbers, and also tallied the first two double-doubles of her career to progress from being an outstanding bench option to one of the most vital parts of the Gaels’ team. Turner also secured a starting berth for all 33 games, having started just one in 2015/16. The junior was also responsible for one of the moments of the season, knocking down the game-winner for Saint Mary’s on Australia Day with under a second remaining to defeat San Francisco. Whilst it was no doubt a special moment, it was also a microcosm of the calmness and maturity that Turner brought to the Gaels this season. Like teammate Megan McKay, Turner was also rewarded with a West Coast Conference honourable mention at the conclusion of the season.
— Saint Mary's Gaels (@smcgaels) January 27, 2017
F | Alex SHARP | Wake Forest
The Australian preseason freshman of the year, Alex Sharp certainly did not disappoint in her first season of college basketball. Named to the ACC All-Freshman team, the Australian Under 19 representative was effective in all facets of the game throughout the season. Amongst ACC freshmen, Sharp was top in rebounds per game, second in three-point percentage, fifth in assists, and seventh in scoring and can’t have been far from earning the conference freshman of the year award. Sharp started the season coming off the bench, but with three double-figure scoring efforts in her first six games, it wasn’t long before coach Jen Hoover was forced to shift the freshman into the starting lineup. With the ability to play any position from shooting guard to power forward, Sharp was able to use different facets of her game to succeed at any spot. Her athleticism garnered her plenty of rebounds when playing big, and her length was enough to disrupt many smaller players when playing at the guard spot. In a team that has just cracked .500 in the past couple of seasons, both Sharp and Wake Forest will be looking to use 2016/17 as a launching pad for the future.
F | Shannon Dufficy | Utah State
Of the four Australians on the Utah State roster, it appeared on paper that Dufficy perhaps had the most competition for minutes given the players returning from last season. Evidently that didn’t faze the young Victorian, who set about establishing herself as a vital member of the team from the outset. Dufficy came within a rebound of registering a double-double in her first college game, and tallied double figures in either points or rebounds in 6 of her first 8 games. Then came a dominant 21 point, 11 rebound performance in a 61-57 loss to Pac-12 school Arizona, with the result harsh on Utah State, but particularly Dufficy. Finishing with season averages of 8.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game is a story in itself, especially in a low-scoring team, but Dufficy’s long list of outstanding performances were vital to Utah State managing a winning record this season. Perhaps the most memorable was a 17 rebound performance against conference favourites Colorado State, which helped Utah State to its first win over the Rams since 1985 just three weeks after going down to the same opponent by 33 points.
After strong debut seasons, Shannon Dufficy and a Eliza West make the all-freshman team! pic.twitter.com/Q5uCyFFIny
— USU Women's Hoops (@USUWBasketball) March 6, 2017
C | Sam LUBCKE | Utah Valley
A junior college transfer, Lubcke came in slightly under the radar but quickly made a name for herself at both ends of the floor. A monster on the offensive glass, Lubcke finished the season ranked top 20 in the nation for offensive rebounds with 4.0 per game. That number was almost as high as her defensive rebounding numbers, which gave Utah Valley a point of difference against most teams throughout the season. However, in a Wolverines side that shot just 38% for the season, Lubcke’s efforts were often in vain as the team could only collect 9 wins for the season. However, the South Australian’s personal stat line glowed throughout with 12.5 points per game on 58% field goal shooting, and a highly impressive 10 double-doubles for the season.
— UVU Athletics (@WolverineGreen) March 9, 2017
There were many players that were close to securing a spot in the All-Australian selections, but eventually every tough decision ends in somebody missing out. Players such as Alex Delaney of St. Francis-Brooklyn and Ashley Taia of Indiana State established themselves as leaders on their respective teams, whilst Elyse Kiploks of Charleston Southern and Boston College freshman pair Georgia Pineau and Taylor Ortlepp were excellent in positions stacked with outstanding Australians. Finally, it would be remiss to not mention Washington State’s Louise Brown, who averaged 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game before injury cruelly ended her season.
Do you agree with Lachy’s selections? We would love your feedback so please share a comment.
2016/17 Season Stats
|S Wi Neera||UVU||10.6||2.16||35.48%||0.00%||55.56%||2.44||0.24||0.16||0.40|