Nine ACC Women's Basketball Players Listed as Naismith Trophy Candidates
Nov. 19, 2009
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Nine Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball players were named to the Naismith Trophy preseason candidate list, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Wednesday. The watch list, consisting of 50 student-athletes, was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2009-10 college basketball season.
The ACC is the only league to have eight teams represented on the preseason list and owns the most student-athletes of any conference named to the candidate list. The Big XII is the only other league to have at least seven student-athletes among the 2009-10 candidates.
The Naismith Trophy, presented by AT&T, will be awarded at the 2010 NCAA Women's Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the Top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.
Headlining the ACC representatives is the league's 2009-10 Preseason Player of the Year Monica Wright of Virginia, a two-time All-ACC pick (2007-08, 08-09). A year ago, Wright was an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American after she set the Cavalier single-season scoring record with 696 points and led the ACC in scoring with 25.0 points per game.
Joining Wright is her entire 2009-10 ACC Preseason All-ACC teammates in Boston College center Carolyn Swords, Duke guard Jasmine Thomas, Florida State forward/center Jacinta Monroe, and North Carolina senior forward Jessica Breland.
Last year, Swords led the country in field goal percentage (67.8). In addition, the junior led the Eagles in scoring (15.4 ppg.) and rebounds (9.0 rpg.). Thomas is one of two starters returning for the Blue Devils, a team that brings back 58.5 percent of its scoring and 63.3 percent of its rebounding from last year. Monroe entered the season as FSU's career blocked shots leader, The senior opened the season in ninth place on the ACC's all-time blocked shots list with 224 and could conceivably move into the top five with another productive season.
Rounding out the nine ACC selections are Clemson's guard Lele Hardy, Miami's guard Shenise Johnson, North Carolina's Italee Lucas, and Georgia Tech's Alex Montgomery.
Hardy was a third-team All-ACC selection and an ACC All-Defensive team member after recording 104 steals a season ago. Entering the season, Hardy needed only 40 more steals to move into first in Clemson history, and remarkably had 287 steals to only 275 turnovers prior to her senior campaign. After a nation-wide survey, Johnson was the only player to lead her team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals in the 2008-09 season. Lucas concluded the previous season with 70 3-pointers, a mark that led her Tar Heels and was sixth in the ACC.
Montgomery and Breland have yet to play in 2009-10. Breland was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, although the senior has finished her chemotherapy and has gone into remission, while Montgomery tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament last March.
The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball's player of the year. For more information, visit www.naismithawards.com. For the complete list of candidates, go to theACC.com.