Columbia, SC (WLTX)- For the second time, South Carolina junior forward A’ja Wilson is one of four finalists for the James A. Naismith Trophy presented to the most outstanding women’s college player, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Friday.
The two-time SEC Player of the Year joins Washington’s Kelsey Plum, UConn’s Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson on the list. The 2017 Naismith Trophy women’s winner will be announced on April 1.
Wilson continues to lead South Carolina to elite national status with her dynamic play that impacts the game on both ends of the floor. Ranked among the nation’s top 20 in field goal percentage and blocked shots, the Hopkins, S.C., native has been most effective when her team has needed her most and when the spotlight shines the brightest.
Wilson averages 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots per game against nationally ranked opponents this season. In the SEC Tournament championship game against 6/7 Mississippi State, her competitive fire spearheaded a fourth-quarter comeback from a five-point deficit with seven points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the final 10 minutes of action. The effort capped a tournament in which she averaged 19.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocked shots en route to tournament MVP honors as the Gamecocks claimed their third-straight title.
The four finalists for the Naismith Trophy were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy. The academy is made up of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, and forward award winners and conference commissioners. They choose finalists based on outstanding on-court performances during the 2016-17 college basketball season.
This year, fans have a say in choosing the winner. During March 20-31, fans can cast their ballot for one of the four finalists. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on March 31, and fans are limited to one vote per day. The fan vote will account for 5% of the total vote.
The No. 4/4 Gamecocks begin NCAA Tournament action Friday at 5 p.m. against UNC Asheville at Colonial Life Arena.