Nation’s-best seven from Pac-12 named Naismith Starting Five finalists

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SAN FRANCISCO - Seven Pac-12 women’s basketball players are among the finalists for the Naismith Starting 5, which the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) announced this week. Five finalists were announced for each of the five positional awards being presented in April at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla. The seven combined finalists are the most for any conference in the country with the league claiming at least one at each of the positions.

OREGON’s Sabrina Ionescu (Walnut Creek, Calif.) is one of the five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, presented to the nation’s top point guard. The two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year won the honor last year. Joining her on the list is OREGON STATE’s Destiny Slocum (Meridian, Idaho) who is in her first season in Corvallis, Ore., and was named All-Pac-12. #NancyLiebermanAward

STANFORD’S Kiana Williams (San Antonio, Texas) is a finalist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, presented to the top shooting guard in the country. She is an All-Pac-12 honoree and helped lead the Cardinal to claim its 13th Pac-12 Tournament crown. #AnnMeyersDrysdaleAward

OREGON’s Satou Sabally (Berlin, Germany) is a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award, presented to the top small forward in the country. A sophomore, she is an All-Pac-12 honoree having helped the Ducks claim a regular-season league crown for the second-straight year. #CherylMillerAward

OREGON’s Ruthy Hebard (Fairbanks, Alaska) was the winner of last year’s Katrina McClain Award, presented to the nation’s top power forward. An All-Pac-12 honoree, she is a finalist again, along with All-Pac-12 performer and Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player STANFORD’s Alanna Smith (Melbourne, Australia). #KatrinaMcClainAward

Rounding out the list of finalists is CALIFORNIA’s Kristine Anigwe (Phoenix, Ariz.) who is a finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award, presented to the top center in the country. Anigwe earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 team for the fourth year in a row and has posted a double-double in every game this season. #LisaLeslieAward

Three of the positional awards are named after former women’s basketball players from Pac-12 institutions, including former UCLA Bruin Ann Meyers Drysdale, the first men’s or women’s player to be named All-American four-straight seasons; former Trojan Cheryl Miller, a three-time Naismith Player of the Year; and also former Trojan Lisa Leslie, a three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year.

A national committee comprising top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 student-athletes in October, which was narrowed to 10 candidates in February and now just five finalists. This month, five finalists will be presented to Ms. McClain-Pittman and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2019 Katrina McClain Power Forward of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit to cast their votes March 15-29.

The winners of the five positional awards — Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award, the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award and the Lisa Leslie Center Award — will be revealed during the WBCA Coaches’ All-America/Naismith Starting 5 Presentation on Thursday, April 4, at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla.  Also being awarded is the Wade Trophy, the sport’s oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award which is presented annually by the WBCA’s community of coaches to the best player in college women’s basketball.

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