Women's Basketball

Rhyne Howard Named Naismith Trophy Player of the Week

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After two double-doubles, a combined 62 points, 10 3s and a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line – not to mention leading Kentucky to three wins – University of Kentucky senior Rhyne Howard has been named the national player of the week by the Naismith Trophy.
 
Howard was brilliant in all three Kentucky games last week, starting with 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3s against Mississippi State. She helped Kentucky power back from down 15 points in the fourth quarter for the 11th-largest comeback in program history. Against Vanderbilt, Howard scored 17 points with four rebounds, three assists and three 3s. Her best outing came at Arkansas, scoring 29 points with five 3s, adding 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. She went 9-of-16 from the field and 5-of-10 from 3. Two of the three games were double-doubles for Howard.
 
So far this season, Howard is leading Kentucky by averaging 20.0 points per game, earning 7.8 rebounds per game with 9 assists, 61 steals, 32 blocks and a team best 49 3-pointers. Howard ranks high nationally in several categories, including 20th nationally in points per game and 34th nationally in steals per game. Howard ranks first in the Southeastern Conference in points per game, while she is third in steals per game and third in field-goals made and fifth in free-throw percentage.
 
Her best game this season came against top-15 ranked Georgia, scoring 30 points in the game, including 22 in the second half. She scored 17 points in the fourth quarter. On top of scoring UK’s last 10 points in the game, she scored 13 of UK’s last 17 points overall. She also shined against West Virginia, when she scored 27 points, going 5-of-7 from long range with six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Against Winthrop, Howard joined an exclusive club by becoming the third player in UK history to record a triple-double in a game. She scored 22 points against the Eagles with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, adding five steals.
 
Howard has been playing at another level the last few games with 20+ points in six of the last 10 games. She has recorded a double-double in six of the last 10 games for UK, including a season-best 12 rebounds at No. 12 LSU. Against Auburn, she scored 29 points with nine rebounds, hitting five 3s. The guard scored 17 points in the fourth quarter against Auburn to help propel UK to the victory. Against No. 1 South Carolina, Howard led Kentucky in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
 
Howard’s career is already one of the best in program history. In 107 career games, Howard has hit at least one 3 in 92 games, posted 10 or more points in 95 career games, 15+ in 79 games, 20+ in 58 games, 25+ in 31 games and 30+ in eight games. The guard has led UK in scoring in 69 career games, in rebounding in 58 career games, in assists in 39 career games, in steals in 46 games and blocks in 42 career games. She has 26 career double-doubles and one triple-double. This season, Howard has hit a 3 in 19 games, three-plus 3s in eight games, five-plus 3s in three games, scored 10+ in 21 games, 15+ in 20 games, 20+ in 14 games, 25+ in five games and one 30-point game. She has led UK in scoring 15 times, rebounding 13 times, assists 10 times, steals 15 times, blocks 11 times and has nine season double-doubles.
 
For her career, Howard has scored 2,134 career points sitting second in UK history in points scored. Against Vanderbilt, Howard scored her 2,000 career points, becoming just the third Wildcat in school history – both men’s and women’s – to record 2,000 or more points in 100 games or less. She joined Hall of Famers Dan Issel and Valerie Still in that category. Howard ranks second in school history in career scoring average at 19.9, while she is third in field-goals made with 741, second in career 3s made with 263 and fourth in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 37.5. She is also fourth in UK history in steals per game at 2.355.
 
Howard’s junior season was one for the record books at Kentucky, earning first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, United States Basketball Writers Association and Wooden Award. She was one of four finalists for the WBCA Wade Trophy, one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, one of four finalists for the 2021 Naismith Trophy and a finalist for the 2021 Cheryl Miller Award. For the second year in a row, Southeastern Conference coaches named Howard the SEC Player of the Year, while she earned All-SEC First Team honors for the third straight season.
 
Howard – who was the only player in the nation in 2020-21 to average over 20 points per game with at least 7.3 rebounds per game, 90 assists and 60 steals – had a great junior season for the Wildcats, averaging 20.7 points per game with 7.3 rebounds per game. She hit a team-best 56 3-pointers and had 91 assists, 61 steals and 19 blocks. Although her scoring average was two points less than it was in 2019-20, Howard showed she is an all-around player and not just a scorer, upping her rebounds per game, assists per game and steals per game average from both her freshman and sophomore seasons.
 
The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, played 24 games last season with nearly half of those coming against top-25 ranked opponents. In those games, Howard showed she is the best player in the country with impressive numbers. In 11 games against ranked opponents, Howard averaged 22.3 points per game, hitting 47.1 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3 with 6.7 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. Howard had four 30+ scoring games during the season with three coming against top-25 ranked teams.
 
One of her best performances of the year was when she scored 33 points at No. 12 Mississippi State, hitting four 3s with 10 rebounds and six assists. She scored 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Bulldogs, scoring 25 of UK’s last 31 points, including 10 of 14 in overtime. Other impressive performances on the biggest stage include 32 points with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals against No. 5 South Carolina and 24 points with four 3s, 10 rebounds and four assists against No. 10 Arkansas. She also posted 22 points against No. 13 Indiana and at No. 8 Texas A&M. Howard took over for Kentucky at No. 17 Georgia with 27 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists and went 4-of-4 from 3 and then followed with a 33-point performance against the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament.
 
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
 

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