Rhyne Howard named to Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List
LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – University of Kentucky women’s basketball star guard Rhyne Howard has added another preseason watch list to her name as she headlines the 2021 Women’s Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Watch List, which was announced Tuesday.
Howard is one of 50 players on the preseason list after being named a finalist for the award last season. The midseason 30 team will be announced in early February and can include players that are not on Tuesday’s preseason watch list. The competition will be narrowed down to 10 national semifinalists on March 2 with four finalists being named on March 19. The winner of the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy for Women’s Player of the Year will be announced on April 3.
Howard has a lengthy list of preseason praise in the last month, including becoming the first Kentucky women’s basketball player to be named a first-team preseason All-American by the AP last week. She has also been named a Preseason All-American by Lindy’s Sports and one of 20 players to the Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List.
Last season, Howard became the first player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from the AP, while she was the fifth Kentucky player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from a major organization and just the second UK player behind Valerie Still to earn three or more first-team All-America honors in the same season.
The 2020 SEC Player of the Year, Howard earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference and SEC All-Defensive Team honors last season while she was one of four finalists for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding women’s college basketball player of the year. On top of being a finalist for the 2020 Cheryl Miller Award, Howard was also one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award and earned All-America honors from the United States Basketball Writers Association, which automatically made her one of five candidates for the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year.
The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, had a sensational sophomore season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats and ranking second nationally with 23.4 points per game. The guard also led UK with 6.5 rebounds per game and 62 steals, while she was second on the team with 29 blocks and third on the team with 68 assists. Howard hit 84 3-pointers this season, which was the most in program history in a single season, topping the previous record of 81 set by Sara Potts in 2004-05. Her 3.1 3-pointers per game ranked top-10 nationally while her 633 total points ranked fifth nationally. Howard’s 23.4 scoring average was the most for a UK player under Matthew Mitchell and the fourth-best average in program history.
Howard placed her name all over the Kentucky record books in 2019-20 as the only player in program history to score 25 or more points in five straight games while she was the second player to score 20 or more points in eight straight games. Howard had two stretches during the season of 20 or more points in eight straight games, including each of her last eight games played after missing three games with a finger injury.
Two of the top-12 scoring performances in program history came last season by Howard. The first was her 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 and the first to hit seven or more 3-pointers in consecutive games. On top of earning six double-doubles last season, Howard became the second fastest UK player ever to reach 1,000 career points and ended the season with 1,158 career points which ranks 27th on UK’s all-time scoring list.