UK’s Howard tabbed to Wooden Award top-25 midseason watch list
Guard named to Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List for third straight season
LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – University of Kentucky women’s basketball senior guard Rhyne Howard is proving again she is one of the best players in the nation as she has been tabbed to the John R. Wooden Award Top-25 Midseason Watch List, it was announced Wednesday evening.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2022 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 2022 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s following the NCAA Tournament in April.
The watch list joins a lengthy list of praise already this season for Howard, who was tabbed the Southeastern Conference Preseason Player of the Year by league coaches and league media. For the third straight season, Howard is on the Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List after being a finalist for the award each of the last two seasons.
Howard was named a first-team preseason All-America honoree by the Associated Press. She has also earned preseason All-America honors from Lindy’s Sports and The Athletic.
So far this season, Howard is leading Kentucky by averaging 18.7 points per game, earning 6.5 rebounds per game with 41 assists, 33 steals, 11 blocks and a team best 18 3-pointers. Howard has scored 10 or more points in every game but one, with 20 or more in six games. She has led UK in points five times this season, in rebounds and assists three times, in blocks four times and in steals six times.
Her best game this season came 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 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.
Howard’s career is already one of the best in program history. In 93 career games, Howard has hit at least one 3 in 81 games, posted 10 or more points in 83 career games, 15+ in 67 games, 20+ in 50 games, 25+ in 2 7games and 30+ in seven games. The guard has led UK in scoring in 59 career games, in rebounding in 48 career games, in assists in 33 career games, in steals in 38 games and blocks in 35 career games. She has 19 career double-doubles and one triple-double.
For her career, Howard has scored 1,844 career points sitting fourth in UK history in points. scored. She needs 4 more to tie Victoria Dunlap for third. Howard ranks second in school history in career scoring average at 19.8, while she is seventh in field-goals made with 639, third in career 3s made with 232 and tied for fourth in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 37.7. She is also fourth in UK history in steals per game at 2.409.