Kneepkens Named Freshman of the Year; Three Utes Honored by Pac-12
SAN FRANCISCO – Utah Women's Basketball newcomer Gianna Kneepkens was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year today with Jenna Johnson and Kennady McQueen also earning recognition from the conference.
Kneepkens earned Freshman of the Year, All-Pac-12 First Team, and All-Freshman Team, while McQueen earned Pac-12 honorable mention honors and Johnson earned All-Freshman honors.
"What an incredible honor for Gianna, Kennady, and Jenna," remarked head coach Lynne Roberts. "I am so impressed and proud of them for what they were able to accomplish consistently all season. The hard work they've put in when no one is watching was rewarded. That said, I also love that our team has had success this season because of our balance and acceptance of that balance. They have all bought into the mindset of 'it doesn't matter who, as long as we reach our goals.' It's been a fun year thus far, and I can't wait to see what this team can do in March."
Kneepkens is the second player since the Utes joined the Pac-12 to earn Freshman of the Year honors. She is the first to claim the award since 2019. Kneepkens is also the first player to take home All-Pac-12 First Team honors since 2019 when Megan Huff earned the recognition.
The Duluth, Minn., native appeared in all 27 games this season and earned five Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors. Kneepkens finished the year with the 10th most made three-pointers (46) in the Pac-12, which was the second most for a freshman.
She came off the bench and scored a career-high 29 points when she shot 52 percent from the floor against BYU on Dec. 5, 2021. She tallied a career-high nine rebounds at Cal on Feb. 13, 2022. She scored 315 points on the season and collected a team-high 114 rebounds.
Kneepkens led the Utes in scoring nine times this season and scored in double-figures a team-high 17 times. She has hit at least one three-pointer in 26 of the 27 games the Utes have played this season. In Pac-12 play, Kneepkens led the Utes in scoring and was second in rebounding. Kneepkens averaged 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game this season.
McQueen earned her first All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod this season. She ranks second in the Pac-12 in three-point field goal percentage (45.5) and ranked tenth in the Pac-12, making three-point field goals with 46. McQueen scored in double-figures in ten games and led the team in scoring twice.
The Henefer, Utah native, started 25 games for the Utes during her sophomore season. She had two 20-point scoring games on the season. She scored 20 points in the Utes' second game against Xavier and set her career-high with 22 points in a 91-69 victory over Southern Cal on Feb. 9, 2022. In the game against Southern Cal, McQueen hit a career-high six three-pointers.
Joining Kneepkens on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team is teammate, Johnson. Johnson claimed three Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors this season, including the final award of the season that was announced Monday. Johnson has the fifth-best shooting percent in the Pac-12, shooting 53.2 percent from the floor.
The Medina, Minn., native closed out the regular season by scoring a career-high 27 points against Oregon on Feb. 26. She scored 17 of those points in the third quarter on 7-of-7 shooting. She led the scoring ten times on the season and 12 double-digit contests on the year.
She appeared in 25 games for the Utes, scoring 294 points for an average of 11.8 points per game, the team-high. She finished second on the team with 110 rebounds and an average of 4.4 per game. She picked up her first collegiate double-double on Dec. 10, 2021, against Cal State Fullerton, scoring 23 points and grabbing ten rebounds. She followed that up with a 21-point, 14 rebound performance against Utah Valley the next game. Her 14 rebounds are a career-high.
The Utes will return to action when they take on the Cal Golden Bears on Wednesday, March 2, in the 2022 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament. The game is set to tip-off at 9:30 p.m. MT in Michelob Ultra Arena in the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev., and will be aired on Pac-12 Network.
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