Rhyne Howard named Wooden Award All-America
Senior guard has been a Wooden Award All-America each of the last three seasons
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/UK ATHLETICS) – University of Kentucky senior guard Rhyne Howard has been tabbed by the John R. Wooden Award as a All-America honoree, marking the third straight season that the guard has earned the honor from the organization.
The five-player team, alphabetically, consists of: Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Naz Hillmon (Michigan), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky), and NaLyssa Smith (Baylor). All five players have been invited to Los Angeles for the 46th annual presentation of the John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy’s Gala.
Voting took place from March 15-22, 2022. As insisted upon by Coach Wooden at the Award’s creation 45 years ago, all players were certified by their universities as meeting or exceeding the criteria of the John R. Wooden Award. The 19th annual John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy’s Women’s Player of the Year will be announced on Monday, April 4th, on SportsCenter on ESPN. The John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy’s Gala will honor the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award winners, and will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, this year given to Rick Byrd. The Gala will take place at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Friday, April 8th.
Howard earned first-team All-America honors this season from The Associated Press and United States Basketball Writers Association. Howard joined Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw, Duke’s Alana Beard, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris and UConn’s Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore as the only three-time first-team AP All-America honorees. Howard was tabbed AP and USBWA First-Team All-America in 2020 and 2021 after historic seasons for the Wildcats. She is the second Kentucky women’s basketball player ever to earn three first-team honors from the same organization and the only UK player to earn three first-team honors from multiple organizations.
The honor joins a long list of honors for Howard in recent weeks as she has established herself as one of the top players in women’s basketball. In the last few weeks, Howard has been named a finalist for the 2022 WBCA Wade Trophy, 2022 Cheryl Miller Award, one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy Women’s National Player of the Year, on the national ballot for the Wooden Award and a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award. The Cheryl Miller Award names the best small forward in the nation and this is the third year Howard has been a finalist. The Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award both seek to name the top player in women’s college basketball. Howard was a finalists for the Naismith Trophy and was a Wooden All-American each of the last two seasons. This is also the third straight year she has been a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award, which is annually awarded to the most outstanding guard in women’s college basketball.
The most versatile player in the country, Howard entered the NCAA Tournament as the only player in the nation with over 600+ points, 200+ rebounds, 100+ assists, 70+ steals and 35+ blocks.
It was a storybook ending to her UK career for Howard, who played at an even more elite level than she previously was during Kentucky’s historic 10-game winning streak. Most recently, Howard 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.
She started the final week of the regular season 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 moved Howard up to 17th all-time on the SEC’s career scoring list. Howard ended the season leading Kentucky by averaging 20.5 points per game, earning 7.4 rebounds per game with 102 assists, 71 steals, 39 blocks and a team best 70 3-pointers. Howard ranked high nationally in several categories, including 15th nationally in points per game and 15th nationally in total points. Howard ranked 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 one of the best in program history. In 114 career games, Howard hit at least one 3 in 99 games, posted 10 or more points in 102 career games, 15+ in 85 games, 20+ in 61 games, 25+ in 33 games and 30+ 10 games. The guard led UK in scoring in 73 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 had 27 career double-doubles and one triple-double. This season, Howard hit a 3 in 26 games, three-plus 3s in 10 games, five-plus 3s in five games, scored 10+ in 28 games, 15+ in 26 games, 20+ in 17 games, 25+ in seven games and three 30-point game. She led UK in scoring 19 times, rebounding 15 times, assists 11 times, steals 19 times, blocks 14 times and has 10 season double-doubles.
For her career, Howard scored 2,290 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 790, first in career 3s made with 284 and fourth in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 38.2. She is also fourth in UK history in steals per game at 2.298.