Durr, Gustafson, Ionescu and Ogunbowale Vying for the Women’s Player of the Year Honor
ATLANTA (March 22, 2019) – Ahead of the NCAA Tournament tip off, the Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced the four finalists competing for the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding women’s college basketball player. The finalists for the Women’s Player of the Year include Asia Durr (Louisville), Megan Gustafson (Iowa), Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon) and Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame).
Durr, Gustafson and Ionescu seek to become the first women’s or men’s player from their schools to win a Citizen Naismith Trophy. Third-year player Ionescu looks to be the first junior to take home the trophy since Breanna Stewart won for UConn in 2015. Gustafson would become the first from the Big Ten to win the Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy. In search of only the fourth women’s trophy win for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Durr and Ogunbowale would be the first to earn the honor since Duke’s Lindsey Harding in 2007. Ogunbowale would also become the second player from Notre Dame to win the Citizen Naismith Trophy for Women’s Player of the Year, joining the 2001 winner, Ruth Riley.
“Each of the four finalists has the talent and commitment it takes to win the 2019 Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “As the tournament begins, we look forward to watching these players lead their teams toward a championship, while they compete for the individual Women’s Player of the Year honor.”
Beginning today, March 22, fans will have a chance to vote for their favorite finalist through April 3, by visiting naismithfanvote.com to cast their ballot. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote. The 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy for Women’s Player of the Year will be announced on April 6, 2019, and the winner will be honored at her school 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 are excited to watch them play and compete in the tournament and for the top honor.”
About the finalists:
Asia Durr, Louisville
- Named ACC Player of the Year for the second year in a row, Durr led the Cardinals to a share of their first regular-season ACC championship and a 29-3 record.
- The senior guard led the league in scoring, averaging 21.3 ppg and 3.5 rpg.
- With an 82.6 free throw percentage, she also came in fifth in 3-pointers (34.7).
- Durr’s team tips off today in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Albany Region.
Megan Gustafson, Iowa
- Gustafson led Division I in scoring and field goal percentage the last two seasons, averaging 28.0 ppg with a 69.6 field goal percentage.
- The senior center-forward is Iowa’s career leader in scoring (2,700) and rebounding (1,403) and will finish in the top five in blocked shots (228).
- In the Big Ten Championship, she scored 45 points to give the Hawkeyes their first league tournament title since 2001.
- With a 26-6 record, Gustafson’s team is set to play in the NCAA Tournament today as the No. 2 seed in the Greensboro Region.
Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon
- Ionescu was named Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.
- Having led the Ducks to a 29-4 record and a Pac-12 regular-season title, she is third in the country in assists, averaging 8.1 apg, 19.6 ppg and 7.5 rpg.
- The junior guard produced seven triple-doubles this season, totaling 17 in her career and setting an NCAA record for both women’s and men’s players.
- Ionescu’s team will play today as the No. 2 seed in the Portland Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Arike Ogunbowale, Notre Dame
- This season, Ogunbowale became the Fighting Irish’s all-time leading scorer (2,471).
- The junior guard had a 44.6 field goal percentage, averaging 21.0 ppg and 4.9 rpg.
- She led the Irish to its sixth ACC regular-season title and fifth ACC Tournament championship and played a role in the team’s 2018 NCAA Championship win.
- Heading into the NCAA Tournament with a 30-3 record, Ogunbowale’s team is seeded No. 1 in the Chicago Region.
The Citizen Naismith Trophy, originally sculpted in 1982 by Atlanta’s Marty C. Dawe, quickly became one of the most prestigious individual national basketball honors. The winner will be awarded with the Citizen Naismith Trophy, produced and provided by Herff-Jones, the leading provider of graduation and educational products and services, including class rings and jewelry. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff-Jones to the player’s college.
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 2018-19 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 Bona, Citizen Watch Company, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.
Citizen, a pioneer in watchmaking and innovative technology since 1918, promotes excellence and creativity with a deep-rooted respect for craftsmanship. Citizen advocates “Better Starts Now,” searching for and accomplishing goals that are cause driven. In this respect, Citizen aligns with organizations and personalities that reflect the values of the brand including the Naismith Awards and Good360.
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