Howard named to John R. Wooden Award late-season Top 20 Watch List

Howard was leading the nation in total points with 441 and sat third in points per game at 23.2 before injuring her finger in the second half of Kentucky’s 68-61 win over Auburn

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – University of Kentucky sophomore guard Rhyne Howard has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Late-Season Top 20 Watch List making her a candidate for the nation’s most prestigious national player of the year award, it was announced Monday night.

Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts based on their performances during the first half of the 2019-20 season, the list is comprised of 20 student-athletes who are currently the front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious honor and the John R. Wooden Award All American Team®.

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The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2020 John R. Wooden Award Women’s Player of the Year presented by Wendy’s. The National Ballot consists of 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the Wooden Award. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games. The Wooden Award All American Team™ will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2020 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s during the ESPN College Basketball Awards on Friday, April 10, 2020.

Howard was leading the nation in total points with 441 and sat third in points per game at 23.2 before injuring her finger in the second half of Kentucky’s 68-61 win over Auburn. She did return to the game with just under five minutes remaining and scored five points with a key steal and block to clinch the win but have missed both of UK’s games since and is expected to be out until mid-February.

The sophomore guard is having an incredible season for the Wildcats, who are 17-4 and currently ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25. Howard is averaging 23.2 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game, adding 61 3-pointers, 49 assists, 45 steals and 22 blocks. The native of Cleveland, Tennessee has been named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week three times this season and was espnW National Player of the Week in December.

So far this season, Howard has placed her name all over the Kentucky record books as the only player in program history to score 25+ points in five straight games while she is the second player to score 20+ points in eight straight games. Part of that impressive stretch was 37 points in UK’s win vs. Tennessee followed by a school-record tying 43 points at Alabama. She is the only player in program history to score 37+ points in consecutive games.

The reigning unanimous national freshman of the year last season, Howard has been tabbed to nearly every watch list for national honors, including the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List earlier this month. The guard is also on the Citizen Naismith Trophy Top 50, Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List, WBCA Preseason Wade Watch List, USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Watch List and was Preseason All-SEC First Team by both league coaches and league media.

Kentucky will return to action Thursday vs. Alabama at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ before traveling to No. 25 Arkansas on Sunday for a 4 p.m. ET tip on ESPN2. Tickets for all Kentucky women’s basketball home games this season are available online at ticketmaster.com.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com