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Rhyne Howard named ESPN’s top player at midway point of 2020-21 season

Roughly two months later, Rhyne Howard is still the GOAT.

After starting the 2020-21 season as ESPN‘s top overall player in women’s college basketball, Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard retains that position at the midway point of the year. The World Wide Leader updated its list of the top 25 players in the country on Wednesday morning.

Here’s what analyst Charlie Creme had to say about the preseason All-American:

The preseason favorite for every major player of the year award and No. 1 on this preseason list in November, Howard didn’t start the season playing that way. In fact, she didn’t start the season playing at all, sitting out the Wildcats’ first two games under suspension by new coach Kyra Elzy. Then an eight-point output in her debut and a pair of underwhelming 13- and 14-point games the following week created some doubts. Turns out that was nothing that a 27.8 PPG average in four straight games against top-15 opponents in Arkansas, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and South Carolina couldn’t cure. Howard’s 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime in the win over Mississippi State are moments on which player of the year awards are built.

Despite a slow start to the season, Howard is averaging 20.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on a shooting split of 48.4/36.4/80.0 in nearly 34 minutes per outing. She’s picked up the pace once SEC play began, leading the ‘Cats to a 2-2 record against four consecutive opponents ranked in the top 12. Howard has been spectacular in those performances, averaging a shade under 28 points per night.

If you want a better idea of just how tough the competition has been for Kentucky over the last two weeks, consider this: Also on ESPN‘s midseason top 25 list are three players from South Carolina (Aliyah Boston at No. 12, Zia Cooke at No. 14, and Destanni Henderson at No. 25) and one apiece from Mississippi State (Rickea Jackson at No. 16), Texas A&M (N’Dea Jones at No. 17), and Arkansas (Chelsea Dungee at No. 19). Kentucky played all four of those teams over its last four games, taking down Arkansas and Mississippi State but falling to Texas A&M and South Carolina.

Lousiville Cardinals guard Dana Evans is right behind Howard at No. 2 while Tennessee Lady Volunteer Rennia Davis guard comes in at No. 24. UConn and Standford each had three players among the top 25, as well.

Kentucky’s upcoming game against Auburn on the road was postponed on Wednesday afternoon due to positive coronavirus tests and contact tracing within the program. The Wildcats’ next scheduled opponent is this Sunday against Vanderbilt inside of Memorial Coliseum.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR