April 3, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Mitch
Senior forward is first three-time recipient
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INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) Connecticut senior standout Breanna Stewart made United States Basketball Writers Association history Sunday afternoon, becoming the first women's star to win three Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year honors, named for UCLA Hall of Famer.

The former Bruin great helped present the award, as she has done annually since her name went on the award in 2012.

Meanwhile Geno Auriemma, who has guided the UConn program to 10 previous NCAA titles, picked up his fifth USBWA National Coach of the Year award to lead the organization's list, which has Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw in second place with three previous presentations.

The two honors were among several others were announced at the annual USBWA Women's Awards press conference, which was held here at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, site of the NCAA Women's Final Four.

Because the event was held close to the scheduled time for the Huskies' tipoff against Oregon State in the first semifinal game before Washington met Syracuse, neither could attend to receive their plaques.

But former USBWA All-American Stefani Dolson, a recent teammate of Stewart, accepted on behalf of the native from Syracuse.

"On behalf of Breanna, I'd like to thank the basketball writers," Dolson said. "She deserves this award. She worked for everything she accomplished. She's something special. She's one of my really, really good friends. She worked so hard in every facet of this game and I'm sure she's so proud to get this award.

Auriemma, who will be coaching the USA women's squad for the second time in the Olympics this summer, was also seeking to break the NCAA basketball tie with the late UCLA men's mentor John Wooden, going for his 11th title.

Connecticut started the day still alive in the a quest to become the first women's team to win four straight NCAA titles.

The USBWA's National Freshman of the Year winner was also revealed, with the honor going to California's Kristine Anigwe, a 6-4 forward/center from Phoenix. During the season, she picked up a Pac-12 record eight Freshman of the Week awards on the way to winning the rookie postseason award in the conference.

Her 20.3 points per game made her the highest scoring freshman in Cal history and she led all freshmen at Power 5 schools with 8.9 rebounds and was third overall nationally.

When told during last week of her honor, Angiwe responded, "I feel humbled and grateful to win this award.

"It was fun and challenging to play against some of the top players in the country this season. I couldn't have done it without the support from my teammates and coaches," she continued, adding, "I'm blessed that they believed in me and I'm looking forward to building on what I learned this season while I live my dream playing at Cal."

Her coach Lindsay Gottlieb said a few words here additionally on Anigwe's behalf.

"I'm sure she would like to be here, more important I'm sure she would like to bring her team here one day," Gottlieb said. "I'm sure it would be lots of fun. There are a lot of people who care about women's basketball. You tell our stories and make us relevant.

"As for the University of California, it is really important for the university to have someone receive a national award. Cal's about excellence. There's Noble Prize winners. There's women at the top of their field. To have a young woman stand at the top of her field is important.

"She loves the game of basketball. She brings a lot to it."

Two winners previously announced were here to pick up their awards.

Danielle O'Banion, who is now between jobs after coaching at Kent State, is this year's winner of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award.

Former Tennessee star Michelle Brooke-Marciniak helped present the award in Summitt's absence while the Hall of Famer continues her battle against Alzheimer's Disease.

"Pat is thrilled that you are this winner," she said. "Courageous is one word to describe my coach. She knew exactly what to do to fight just as you know exactly what to do, Danielle, to fight. Pat would like to thank you for showing your special strength and character."

O'Banion in the fall of 2014 was diagnosed with lymphoma during a routine visit to her doctor. She continued to coach Kent State the entire season and this past May was declared cancer-free."

O'Banion said she was honored to be recognized in the same year by USBWA as former Butler star Andrew and (his wife) Samantha Smith.

Caroline Williams, the primary media liason for USA Basketball's women's programs, including the Olympic squad, among her other duties, is the second winner of the Mary Jo Haverbeck Award named for the late pioneering women's sports information director at Penn State.

The award is similar to the Katha Quinn Award on the men's side.

Williams was told of the award in a surprise announcement in February during the USA Women's National Team training camp sessions.

Two other extra presentations occurred with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Mel Greenberg Media Award going longtime women's broadcast Brenda VanLegen.

The organization restructured its convention activities for Indianapolis and asked if the presentation could be made at the USBWA event.

WBCA president and Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale helped hand out the award, which has been given in the past by yours truly. She is also member of the 2016 class that will be inducted at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., in June.

Additionally, Kelli Williams, who has produced a documentary film about the famed Wayland Baptist Flying Queens team that toured the country and won 131 straight games from 1951-1958, spoke briefly about her project.

The Wayland Team was one of four finalists from the women's side for the 2016 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction class, whose group is to be announced Monday morning at the men's NCAA Final Four in Houston.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821.

1988 Sue Wicks, Rutgers
1989 Clarissa Davis, Texas
1990 Jennifer Azzi, Stanford
1991 Dawn Staley, Virginia
1992 Dawn Staley, Virginia
1993 Sheryl Swoopes, Texas Tech
1994 Lisa Leslie, USC
1995 Rebecca Lobo, Connecticut
1996 Saudia Roundtree, Georgia
1997 Kate Starbird, Stanford
1998 Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee
1999 Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee
2000 Tamika Catchings, Tennessee
2001 Ruth Riley, Notre Dame
2002 Sue Bird, Connecticut
2003 Diana Taurasi, Connecticut
2004 Alana Beard, Duke
2005 Seimone Augustus, LSU
2006 Ivory Latta, North Carolina
2007 Candace Parker, Tennessee
2008 Candace Parker, Tennessee
2009 Maya Moore, Connecticut
2010 Tina Charles, Connecticut
2011 Maya Moore, Connecticut
2012 Brittney Griner, Baylor
2013 Brittney Griner, Baylor
2014 Breanna Stewart, Connecticut
2015 Breanna Stewart, Connecticut
2016 Breanna Stewart, Connecticut
The award was named in honor of Ann Meyers Drysdale in 2012