The UK women’s basketball team’s season may be over, but Rhyne Howard is far from done – she’s still raking in the awards. Kentucky’s star rookie has been named the 2019 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NCAA Division I Freshman of the Year, presented by Adidas. That’s a mouthful, but it’s also a huge deal for Howard and the Kentucky program.
Howard was selected as the SEC Freshman of the Year a few weeks ago (after winning the weekly conference award a record-breaking eight times), which put her in the running for this national award against the top player from every other conference in America. The other qualifying factors?
“Energy, enthusiasm, effort and effectiveness — these are hallmark pillars that each coach hopes their first-year, student-athletes will contribute to the team,” WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew said. “Rhyne most certainly contributed to the University of Kentucky’s success, and we recognize and applaud her immediate impact this season.”
Based on Howard’s season, “immediate impact” barely does it justice. She ended the season leading UK with 16.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game; she scored in double figures in 26 games and recorded five double-doubles. Her name can already been found all over the UK record books – she’s in the program’s top three for multiple freshman records (points per game, total season points, steals, double-figure scoring, 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage). She’s the program’s first freshman to lead the team in scoring and rebounding since UK All-American Valerie Still.
In addition to her WBCA Freshman of the Year award, she’s already claimed several others, including espnW National Player of the Year and the AP’s SEC Newcomer of the Year. She was also named to the WBCA All-Region team, the first-team All-SEC and the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Her freshman season was one of the most impressive rookie seasons in program history. If the one-and-done culture existed in women’s hoops as it does for the men, Howard would most certainly be gone. Luckily for Coach Matthew Mitchell, the UK Hoops’ program and the BBN, Howard has three more years to continue making an impact – and leaving a legacy – in Lexington.