Washington’s Kelsey Plum added three more prestigious prizes to her collection Saturday, winning the Naismith and Wade trophies as the nation’s top player in women’s college basketball and the Nancy Lieberman Award as the best point guard. Plum is the first UW and fifth Pac-12 player to win the Naismith, and the first UW player and fourth Pac-12 player to take the Wade.
The only postseason award remaining for Plum to win is the Wooden Award, presented next week.
“Kelsey’s accomplishments this season were remarkable, as well as record-breaking, which speaks to her consistency and desire to improve each and every season,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, sponsor of the Naismith award. “She will always be remembered not only as an iconic basketball player, but also as a Citizen Naismith Trophy winner.”
Plum averaged 31.7 points to rank first in the nation and finished her career with an NCAA record 3,527 points. Before winning the Naismith and Wade trophies, Plum was named a unanimous All-America and Player of the Year by the Associated Press. Earlier this week, she won the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the National Player of the Year (U.S. Basketball Writers Assn.) and the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s best overall guard.
She is the first conference player to take the Naismith since state of Washington native (Lakes High School) Kate Starbird won it while playing for Stanford in 1997.
The Naismith honor was first presented to Anne Donovan (Old Dominion University) in 1983. Other notable winners include Cheryl Miller (1984-86, University of Southern California), Dawn Staley (1991-92, University of Virginia), Lisa Leslie (1994, University of Southern California) and Diana Taurasi (2003-04, UConn).
Plum joins Stanford’s Candice Wiggins (2008), Stanford’s Jennifer Azzi (1990) and USC’s Cheryl Miller (1985) as the fourth Pac-12 performer to win the Wade Trophy, the oldest award in women’s basketball that began in 1978 and is generally referred to as the Heisman Trophy of the sport.
She is also the first Washington and Pac-12 player to win the Lieberman Award, presented annually by the Naismith Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. First presented in 2000, the most notable winner was Connecticut’s Sue Bird, now a member of the Seattle Storm, who took the trophy three consecutive years from 2000-02.
“With her combination of leadership and tremendous scoring ability, Kelsey Plum has become one of the most exciting players to watch in the game today,” said Lieberman, who presented Plum with the award Saturday in Dallas. “As a recipient of this award, she is in elite company, and I appreciate the effort and determination she has put forth during her college career to achieve the numerous records she has set.”
“I’ve seen Pearl Moore, I’ve seen the Lynette Woodward, I’ve seen Jackie Stiles up close and personal — the greats of the game and you’re right there,” Lieberman told Plum during the awards ceremony. “There were a lot of great players that played this game, but very few players have changed the game.
“You’ve done that. You’re not only a record holder, but you’ve changed how the game is being played. And that’s pretty stout to sit here with someone and to say that about you.”