TAMPA – University of Kentucky women’s basketball freshman guard Rhyne Howard has been named the United States Basketball Writers Association National Freshman of the Year and was presented with her award Friday inside Amalie Arena prior to the start of Friday’s Final Four.
The prestigious honor makes Howard a unanimous national freshman of the year after she was named espnw National Freshman of the Year in March and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association National Freshman of the Year earlier this week. Howard is the first player in program history to win a national freshman of the year honor and is the sixth SEC player to earn the honor from the USBWA. The national honors are added to her already lengthy list of honors this season as the 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-America honorable mention, 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.