Shelley Till's picks for Big Ten Women's Basketball awards
They say time flies when you’re having fun, and this Big Ten Women’s Basketball season is no exception.
With only one week left until the Big Ten tournament, here are my picks for Big Ten Conference awards:
Coach of the Year: Ohio State’s – Kevin McGuff
Coach McGuff has managed to stay afloat of the Big Ten with only one conference loss to Northwestern. Currently riding a Big Ten best 11-game win streak, the Buckeyes look to be clicking on all cylinders and poised to make a run at the Big Ten tourney crown.
Player of the Year: Rachel Banham
Banham continues to make the country take notice of her amazing accomplishments. She is the leading scorer in conference play with 30.5 points per game. She has also become the Big Ten’s all-time scoring leader with her 52 point performance in Minnesota’s loss to Michigan State. That production currently puts her at 2,921 points as she heads into her last home game vs Ohio State. Within Big Ten play, Banham also sits at No. 1 in 3-pointers made at 4.1 per game, No. 5 in 3-point field goal percentage at 44.2 percent, No. 6 in free throw percentage at 84.9, No. 8 with 4.8 assists per game, and No. 14 with 1.5 steals per game. You can bet that the Big Ten Tournament will provide even more excitement than usual with Rachel Banham and company involved.
Freshman of the Year: Jessica Shepard
Shepard holds a conference record 10 Freshman of the Week honors. That consistency has her averaging 20.1 points (sixth in the league) and 9.3 rebounds (fifth in the league) per game in conference play. Her play may need to step up even more in light of the early exit of senior Kyndal Clark and the day-to-day status of senior point guard Rachel Theriot.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ashley Deary
Still leading the nation in steals, Deary has 120 and needs just five more to break the Big Ten single-season record of 124. Deary has consistently been a spark plug for a Northwestern team that has underachieved throughout the conference season.
First Team All–Conference Players
Rachel Banham, Minnesota
Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State
Mitchell ranks among the top in numerous Big Ten statistical areas. She is currently sitting at second in scoring (24.8), fifth in steals (1.8), and second in 3-pointers per game (3.8).
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Maryland
Leads the nation with 56.7 percent 3-point field goal percentage. Averages 19.8 points per game (seventh) and 1.7 steals per game (eighth) in Big Ten play.
Aerial Powers, Michigan State
Coming off a career-high 40-point game in MSU’s win vs. Minnesota, Powers is currently sitting at third place among her Big Ten foes in both scoring (23.9 points per game) and rebounding (9.4 per game).
Katelynn Flaherty, Michigan
The leagues fourth best scorer at 20 points per game. Flaherty also ranks fourth in 3-pointers made per game (3.2).