Pac-12 women's basketball standouts honored as USBWA All-Americans
SAN FRANCISCO – ARIZONA’s Aari McDonald and STANFORD’s Kiana Williams were named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America second team and UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere earned a spot on the third team when the organization unveiled its 2020-21 Women’s All-America Team on Friday. STANFORD’s Haley Jones and WASHINGTON STATE’s Charlisse Leger-Walker received honorable mention accolades.
Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer was also selected as the USBWA Coach of the Year for the second time (1990). Earlier in the day, VanDerveer took home her third Naismith Trophy Coach of the Year award after steering Stanford to a 29-2 record this season and the program’s 14th Final Four this afternoon against South Carolina at 3 p.m. PT on ESPN.
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with 16 USBWA first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees since 2016, one more than the Big Ten (15) and two ahead of the SEC (14).
The Conference’s Player of the Year, McDonald has led Arizona to the first Final Four in program history tonight against Connecticut at 6:30 p.m. MST on ESPN. Also a USBWA Second Team All-American a season ago, she has elevated her game in the postseason and is averaging 25.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game in the NCAA Tournament. She poured in 31 points in the Sweet 16 and a season-high 33 in the Elite Eight to become the first player with back-to-back 30-point games in a regional semifinal and final since Arminite Herrington did so for Ole Miss in 2007.
Williams is tied for seventh in the country with 81 made 3-pointers this season, is Stanford’s career leader in that category (310) and fourth in Pac-12 history. Also 10th in program history in scoring (1,821 points) and ninth in assists (458), the San Antonio native is one of 22 women’s college basketball players since 2000 to put together career totals of more than 1,800 points, 450 assists and 300 made 3-pointers. She is the third in the Pac-12 to do it over that span, joining Sabrina Ionescu (OREGON) and Sydney Wiese (OREGON STATE).
Onyenwere picked up her second consecutive USBWA All-America third team honor. She finished the year averaging a career-high 19.1 points per game and concluded her career as UCLA’s fourth all-time leading scorer (1,888) and eighth all-time leading rebounder (885). Onyenwere was one of just 20 players in the country to average 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game this season and one of 11 to do it in a Power 5 conference. She was also one of only three players in the country to average at least 18.3 points per game in each of the past three seasons along with McDonald and Vivian Gray (Texas Tech/Oklahoma State).
Jones is Stanford’s leading rebounder (7.5) and second on the team in scoring average (12.7) and assists (89). She is second in the Pac-12 and 25th in the country, shooting 53.4 percent from the floor and earlier in the season went 14-of-15 from the field against Washington, the best shooting percentage in a single game for a Stanford player since 1981.
Leger-Walker became the second player in WSU history to be named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after setting the program’s freshman scoring record at 18.8 points per game. The New Zealand native scored 20+ points in 12 games and propelled the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 seasons.