Murekatete Named Pac-12 Co-Most Improved Player of the Year
SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday, March 1, that Washington State junior Bella Murekatete has been named the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Most Improved Co-Player of the Year, sharing the honors with Southern California's Jordyn Jenkins.
Murekatete and Jenkins are the first players to be named Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year, as the honor was added to the conference's list of postseason awards this season.
The 6-3 center, who is the first-known, Rwandan-born player in NCAA women's college basketball, has made remarkable strides this season, as Murekatete is posting career highs in nearly every category this season. The post player is averaging 10.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game this season, all of which is a personal-best mark for a single season.
Coming into the 2021-22 season, Murekatete averaged 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game through 53 career contests and turned herself into a consistent threat in the post for Washington State.
Murekatete has ranked inside the top-10 in the Pac-12 in blocks and rebounds all season. Her 203 total rebounds are third-most in the Pac-12 this season, while her 48 blocks are the fourth-most collected by a Pac-12 player this season. She has pulled down double-digit rebounds in five games this season, which includes a career-best 15 against Northern Arizona.
Murekatete has also been a force to reckon with offensive this season, as she is averaging double-digit points for the first time in a season in her WSU at 10.3 points per contest. The center has scored double-digit points in 16 of her 28 games played this season. She opened the year with a career-high 22-point performance against San Jose State. She also led Washington State in field goal percentage, hitting 47.5 percent of her shots from the floor.
The post player is one of three Washington State players to earn All-Pac-12 postseason honors this season. Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker earned her second-straight All-Pac-12 selection, while redshirt fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention and All-Pac-12-Defensive team honorable mention.
The 2021-22 Pac-12 Conference Most Improved Player of the Year is voted on by the Pac-12 head coaches.
Washington State begins its run in the 2022 Pac-12 Tournament this week in Las Vegas at the Michelob ULTRA Arena. The Cougars earned the tournament's No. 3 seed and will take on the winner of No. 6-seed Utah and No. 11-seed California this Thursday, March 3, at 8:30 p.m. PT. The game will air live on the Pac-12 Network.
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