UConn freshman guard Paige Bueckers and South Carolina sophomore forward Aliyah Boston, who will attempt to lead their No. 1 teams to the Elite Eight this weekend, were among the college basketball players. named finalists Friday for the 2021 John R. Wooden Award.
Louisville senior guard Dana Evans and Baylor junior forward NaLyssa Smith, whose second-seeded teams will also compete in the Sweet 16, were also named finalists for the Wooden, which is awarded annually to the best female college basketball player.
Kentucky junior guard Rhyne Howard rounded out the finalists, who were also named for the 2021 John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s All American Team. Howard’s fourth-seeded Wildcats were upset by Iowa in the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament.
The five players were also named to the Associated Press All-America first team earlier this month.
Bueckers leads UConn with 19.9 points per game, 6.0 assists and 2.4 steals. The No. 1 ranked Huskies will face the Hawkeyes in the regional semifinals on Saturday (1 pm ET, ABC / ESPN App). Bueckers joined Maya Moore as the only UConn players to win Big East Player of the Year and First Year of the Year honors in the same season.
Baylor, the new NCAA women’s tournament favorite according to ESPN’s Basketball Percentage Index, plays sixth-seeded Michigan on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN app) at Sweet 16. Smith, LA Big 12 player of the year, she has an average of 18.0 points. and 9.0 rebounds, team-highs in both categories, for the Lady Bears.
Two-time ACC Player of the Year Evans is averaging 19.6 points and 4.0 assists for Louisville, which plays sixth-seeded Oregon on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN App). Boston, which has amassed 66 points and 35 rebounds in its last three games, leads South Carolina in their Sweet 16 game with fifth-seeded Missouri State on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN App). Boston is averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
Howard, a two-time SEC Player of the Year, averaged 20.7 points and 7.3 rebounds this season.
The Wooden Award honoring the best female college basketball player was established in 2004. Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon won the award in 2018-19 and 2019-20. The winner of the 2021 Wooden Award will be announced after the NCAA tournament in April.