Cox, Harris, Howard and Ionescu Vying for the Women’s Player of the Year Honor
ATLANTA (March 20, 2020) – The Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced the four finalists competing for the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding women’s college basketball player of the year. The finalists include Lauren Cox (Baylor), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky) Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon).
Howard and Ionescu, who was a 2019 finalist for the award, seek to become the first players from their schools to win a Citizen Naismith Trophy. Harris would become the second winner from South Carolina, joining 2018 winner A’ja Wilson. South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley (who is a current finalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Award) also took home the Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1991 and 1992 while playing for the University of Virginia. Cox would also become the second player from Baylor to win the Citizen Naismith Trophy for Women’s Player of the Year, joining the 2012 and 2013 winner, Brittany Griner. Howard would become only the fifth sophomore to take home the honor with the most recent being UConn’s Breanna Stewart, who won the first of her three trophies in 2014.
“We saw throughout the regular season that each of the four finalists had the talent and commitment it takes to win the 2020 Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “While their seasons ended earlier than they would have hoped, we want to honor the skill and determination they had on the court, awarding one of these players with the Women’s Player of the Year honor.”
Beginning today, fans will have a chance to vote for their favorite finalist through April 1, by visiting naismithfanvote.com to cast their ballot. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote. The 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy for Women’s Player of the Year is scheduled to be announced on April 3, 2020, and the winning player will be awarded with the Citizen Naismith Trophy, produced and provided by Herff Jones, leading provider of graduation and educational products and services designed to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for students. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff Jones to the respective school in recognition of award recipient. The award ceremony will be held on a later date.
“These players have shown the dedication and drive worthy of the Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy,” said Eric Horowitz, managing director U.S. and travel retail, Citizen Watch Company of America, Inc. “We had the pleasure of watching this elite group play this season and look forward to honoring one of them with the Citizen Naismith Trophy based on their outstanding play during the regular season.”
About the finalists:
Lauren Cox, Baylor
- Named Big 12 Player of the Year, Cox was unanimously selected for the All-Big 12 First Team, making it her third First Team honor in her career.
- The 6’4” forward averaged 12.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.7 blocks per game.
- During her four years at Baylor, she has tallied 1,570 points and was only 18 boards away from breaking the 1,000 mark in rebounds when the season ended.
- Cox helped lead the Bears to a 10th consecutive regular-season Big 12 championship and a 29-2 record.
Tyasha Harris, South Carolina
- Harris earned First Team All-SEC honors and was named to the 2020 SEC All-Tournament team, leading her team to regular-season and SEC Tournament championship titles.
- Leading the SEC in assists (5.7 apg), the senior guard is the all-time career assists leader for the Gamecocks with 702.
- She led her team to a perfect conference record at 16-0, and the Gamecocks went 32-1 overall.
- Harris averaged a career-high of 12 ppg and dished out five or more assists in 12 straight games with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.78.
Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
- After being named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019, Howard earned the SEC Player of the Year title in her second year with the Wildcats, in addition to her SEC All-Defensive team and First Team All-SEC honors.
- The 6’2” guard led her team in points (23.4 ppg), rebounds (6.5 rpg) and steals with 62 this season.
- She set a program record with her 84 three-pointers in a single season and became the only player to score 25+ points in eight consecutive games, tying the school record for most points in a single game with 43 against Alabama.
- Howard led her team to a 22-8 overall record.
Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon
- For the third-consecutive season, Ionescu was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and led her team to a Pac-12 Tournament championship title for the second time in three years.
- The senior guard made history as the first Division I player to record 2,562 points, 1,040 rebounds and 1,091 assists in her career.
- Her 26-career triple-doubles set the Division I record for both women’s and men’s players, and she also set a Division I record for single-season triple-doubles with eight.
- Ionescu led the nation with 9.1 assists per game, which helped her team go 31-2 this season and 17-1 in conference play.
The Citizen Naismith Trophy, originally sculpted in 1982 by Atlanta’s Marty C. Dawe, has become one of the most prestigious individual national basketball honors. The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2019-20 regular college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.
For more information, visit www.naismithtrophy.com.
ABOUT THE ATLANTA TIPOFF CLUB
Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include Citizen Watch Company, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.
Citizen, a pioneer in watchmaking and innovation since 1918, promotes excellence and creativity with a deep-rooted respect for craftsmanship. Citizen advocates “Better Starts Now,” searching for and accomplishing goals that cultivate positive change. Driven to create timepieces enjoyed by citizens all over the world, Citizen formed an alliance partnership with Disney in 2018, another powerhouse brand with similar values. With a long-term partnership in place, Citizen participates in activations surrounding the Disney Parks, Marvel, Star Wars and more. Citizen is the Official Timepiece of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland with branded clocks in both theme parks.
For over 40 years, Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology has served as the prime example of how the brand is dedicated to making the world and its environment a better place. A simple yet revolutionary concept, Eco-Drive harnesses the power of light from any natural or artificial light source and converts it into energy, eliminating the need for any battery replacement.
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club