LEXINGTON, Ky. – The honors keep coming for University of Kentucky freshman guard Rhyne Howard (pictured) as she has been named the 2019 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NCAA Division I Freshman of the Year presented by Adidas, it was announced Wednesday.
The freshman of the year award honors the best NCAA Division I women’s basketball freshman or redshirt freshman. All conference freshman players of the year in NCAA Division I are considered for the award. If a conference does not select a freshman player of the year, the conference office can nominate one player to be considered.
“Energy, enthusiasm, effort and effectiveness — these are hallmark pillars that each coach hopes their first-year, student-athletes will contribute to the team,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “The WBCA and adidas recognize the important contribution of first-year student-athletes. I am pleased to present the WBCA NCAA Division I Freshman of the Year award to Rhyne Howard. Rhyne most certainly contributed to the University of Kentucky’s success and we recognize and applaud her immediate impact this season.”
Howard has a lengthy list of honors this season as the espnW National Player of the Year, Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by league coaches and SEC Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press. She was also named WBCA All-Region, first-team All-SEC, SEC All-Freshman Team and second-team All-SEC by the AP.
All the postseason awards are on top of Howard being named SEC Freshman of the Week eight times this season, setting the program and league record for most rookie of the week awards. The SEC honors came on Nov. 13, 27, Dec. 11, 23, Jan. 8, Feb. 12, 19 and 26. She was named National Freshman of the Week on Dec. 26 by USBWA, the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.
Howard is the first UK freshman in the Matthew Mitchell era to score at least 10 points in each of her first 10 games. The guard put herself in elite company this season as she is only the second freshman in program history to lead the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding as a rookie, joining UK All-American Valerie Still. Howard ended the season leading UK with 16.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while she ranked second with 68 steals and 74 3-pointers made and third in assists and blocks. She scored in double figures in 26 games with 20 or more points in 10 games and five double-doubles.
The native of Cleveland, Tenn., ranked high in the league in several categories sitting eighth in field goals made, 11th in field-goal percentage, seventh in points, seventh in points per game, fourth in steals, sixth in 3-pointers made, sixth in 3s made per game and sixth in 3-point percentage. Howard was the only freshman in the country with 500+ points, 70+ 3s, 75+ assists and 65+ steals while she ranked third among freshmen nationally in points and points per game.
During conference play, Howard had a four-game stretch of scoring 17+ points with 19 points and five 3s against Auburn before 23 points and four 3s vs. Alabama. She had 18 points and 14 rebounds against Arkansas, hitting the game-winning shot with 1.3 second left and then getting a steal to clinch the win. In Kentucky's win at top-15 ranked South Carolina, Howard had 17 points with four rebounds and three steals. In the SEC Tournament, Howard scored 21 points after halftime to charge a UK comeback against Missouri finishing the game with 11 made field goals and 25 points.
Howard is all over nearly every UK freshman single-season record, sitting second in points, second in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game, first in 3-pointers made, third in 3-point field goal percentage, third in steals, second in double-figure scoring games and fifth in double-figure rebounding games.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught