Rhyne Howard named finalist for Cheryl Miller award

Howard is one of five finalist for the Cheryl Miller award.

LEXINGTON, Ky.( UK Athletics) – The national recognition for senior guard Rhyne Howard continues to come as the senior guard has been recognized by two organizations for national awards. The Cheryl Miller Award has tabbed Howard a finalist for the third straight year, while the Naismith Trophy named the guard a semifinalist for the women’s college player of the year.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced the five finalists for the 2022 Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Award. Named after the three-time Naismith Player of the Year and Class of 1995 Hall of Famer, the annual award in its fifth year recognizes the top small forwards in in NCAA Division I college women’s basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 student-athletes in November, which was narrowed to 10 candidates in February and now just five finalists. This month, the finalists will be presented to Ms. Miller and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2022 Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Naismith Starting Five Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies will go live on Friday, March 11 on hoophallawards.com.

The winner of the 2022 Cheryl Miller Award will be presented on a to be determined date, along with the other four members of the Women’s Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award and the Lisa Leslie Center Award, in addition to the Men’s Starting Five. Additional information about the award presentation, including date and time, will be released in the coming weeks.

Howard is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy, which was determined by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

It has been a brilliant few weeks for Howard, who has played at an even more elite level than she previously was during Kentucky’s historic 10-game winning streak. Most recently, Howard has shined on the national stage in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, helping Kentucky to its first tournament title in 40 years. The guard was named the tournament’s most valuable player, becoming the second player in program history to earn that honor. Howard scored 88 points in UK’s four games at the event, marking the third most ever by a player in the tournament.

The Wildcats won the championship with a huge upset victory over No. 1 South Carolina. Howard was amazing in the game, scoring 18 points with four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. In the semifinals, Howard scored 24 points against No. 15 Tennessee with seven assists, nine rebounds and two 3s. Howard led Kentucky to an upset victory over No. 6 LSU in the quarterfinals, scoring 32 points with six 3-pointers. The guard had 14 points against Mississippi State in the second round of the event.

During the final week of the regular season, Kentucky celebrated Rhyne Howard Day vs. Auburn as the guard played her final game inside Memorial Coliseum and went out in style. Howard scored 32 points in the game, which is the most points ever by a Kentucky senior on Senior Day. Howard hit eight 3s in the game, which was a new school record for 3s made in a game. She had six 3s in the first half, which was a new school record for 3s in half. The eight makes from long range gave Howard 272 career 3s, which makes her the school’s career record holder in 3s made. Her 32 points were a season high and the performance gave her the second-most 30-point games in school history with nine. Started the week with 19 points and a season-best 12 rebounds at Mizzou, adding four assists and four steals against MU as the Wildcats claimed back-to-back road wins in the SEC by 15+ points for the first time since 2016. The double-double against Missouri was her team-leading 10th of the season and helped her earn SEC Player of the Week honors.

The week prior, Howard was named the Naismith Trophy National Player of the Week after several incredible performances. Howard was brilliant in all three Kentucky games that week, starting with 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3s against Mississippi State. She helped Kentucky power back from down 15 points in the fourth quarter for the 11th-largest comeback in program history. Against Vanderbilt, Howard scored 17 points with four rebounds, three assists and three 3s. Her best outing came at Arkansas, scoring 29 points with five 3s, adding 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. She went 9-of-16 from the field and 5-of-10 from 3. Two of the three games were double-doubles for Howard.

Her performances over the last few weeks have moved Howard up to 17th all-time on the SEC’s career scoring list. So far this season, Howard is leading Kentucky by averaging 20.6 points per game, earning 7.3 rebounds per game with 101 assists, 71 steals, 39 blocks and a team best 68 3-pointers. Howard ranks high nationally in several categories, including 15th nationally in points per game and 11th nationally in total points. Howard ranks first in the Southeastern Conference in points per game and final points.

One of her best games this season came against top-15 ranked Georgia, scoring 30 points in the game, including 22 in the second half. She scored 17 points in the fourth quarter. On top of scoring UK’s last 10 points in the game, she scored 13 of UK’s last 17 points overall. She also shined against West Virginia, when she scored 27 points, going 5-of-7 from long range with six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Against Winthrop, Howard joined an exclusive club by becoming the third player in UK history to record a triple-double in a game. She scored 22 points against the Eagles with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, adding five steals.

Howard’s career is already one of the best in program history. In 113 career games, Howard has hit at least one 3 in 98 games, posted 10 or more points in 101 career games, 15+ in 84 games, 20+ in 61 games, 25+ in 33 games and 30+ 10 games. The guard has led UK in scoring in 72 career games, in rebounding in 60 career games, in assists in 40 career games, in steals in 50 games and blocks in 45 career games. She has 27 career double-doubles and one triple-double. This season, Howard has hit a 3 in 25 games, three-plus 3s in 10 games, five-plus 3s in five games, scored 10+ in 27 games, 15+ in 25 games, 20+ in 17 games, 25+ in seven games and three 30-point game. She has led UK in scoring 18 times, rebounding 15 times, assists 11 times, steals 19 times, blocks 14 times and has 10 season double-doubles.

For her career, Howard has scored 2,273 career points sitting second in UK history in points scored. Against Vanderbilt, Howard scored her 2,000 career points, becoming just the third Wildcat in school history – both men’s and women’s – to record 2,000 or more points in 100 games or less. She joined Hall of Famers Dan Issel and Valerie Still in that category. Howard ranks second in school history in career scoring average at 20.1, while she is second in field-goals made with 786, first in career 3s made with 282 and fourth in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 38.2. She is also fourth in UK history in steals per game at 2.318.

Howard’s junior season was one for the record books at Kentucky, earning first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, United States Basketball Writers Association and Wooden Award. She was one of four finalists for the WBCA Wade Trophy, one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, one of four finalists for the 2021 Naismith Trophy and a finalist for the 2021 Cheryl Miller Award. For the second year in a row, Southeastern Conference coaches named Howard the SEC Player of the Year, while she earned All-SEC First Team honors for the third straight season.

Howard – who was the only player in the nation in 2020-21 to average over 20 points per game with at least 7.3 rebounds per game, 90 assists and 60 steals – had a great junior season for the Wildcats, averaging 20.7 points per game with 7.3 rebounds per game. She hit a team-best 56 3-pointers and had 91 assists, 61 steals and 19 blocks. Although her scoring average was two points less than it was in 2019-20, Howard showed she is an all-around player and not just a scorer, upping her rebounds per game, assists per game and steals per game average from both her freshman and sophomore seasons.

The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, played 24 games last season with nearly half of those coming against top-25 ranked opponents. In those games, Howard showed she is the best player in the country with impressive numbers. In 11 games against ranked opponents, Howard averaged 22.3 points per game, hitting 47.1 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3 with 6.7 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. Howard had four 30+ scoring games during the season with three coming against top-25 ranked teams.

One of her best performances of the year was when she scored 33 points at No. 12 Mississippi State, hitting four 3s with 10 rebounds and six assists. She scored 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Bulldogs, scoring 25 of UK’s last 31 points, including 10 of 14 in overtime. Other impressive performances on the biggest stage include 32 points with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals against No. 5 South Carolina and 24 points with four 3s, 10 rebounds and four assists against No. 10 Arkansas. She also posted 22 points against No. 13 Indiana and at No. 8 Texas A&M. Howard took over for Kentucky at No. 17 Georgia with 27 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists and went 4-of-4 from 3 and then followed with a 33-point performance against the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament.

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