LEXINGTON – On the heels of her unanimous national freshman of the year campaign, University of Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard has been selected to participate in the 2019 USA Basketball Women’s 3×3 National Championship this weekend in Las Vegas.
The event will be held May 3-4 in Las Vegas and teams include three teams that qualified out of 3×3 tournaments over the past year, 13 teams representing some of the top NCAA Division I programs across the country and two teams that will be comprised of eight athletes invited to attend a two-day minicamp prior to the USA Women’s 3×3 Nationals.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held for the first time outdoors at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. The USA 3×3 Nationals will tip-off with preliminary games from 3-10:30 p.m. (all times listed are local, PDT) on Friday, May 3. The preliminary round will continue from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on May 4, and, after teams are seeded based on preliminary records, the knockout round will begin Saturday at 6 p.m. The women’s championship game, which will be streamed live online at usab.com/live, is set to tip at 10 p.m.
In addition to the lure of a national championship, the event also will serve as the 2019 USA Basketball Women’s 3×3 National Team trials, as all eligible athletes will be in consideration for selection to the 2019 USA Women’s 2019 U.S. Pan American Games 3×3 Basketball Team.
Howard is one of eight athletes arriving in Las Vegas for a May 1-2 minicamp after submitting applications and being accepted by USA Basketball to compete in the tournament. The eight will be divided into two teams for the event.
Howard has had success playing for Team USA in the past as she led the USA U18 Team to the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship gold medal last summer and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Howard shined in every game of the tournament, starting with six points, two rebounds, one assist and a steal vs. Argentina before seven points with eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal vs. Chile. In the final game of pool play vs. Puerto Rico, Howard had 11 points with six rebounds, six steals and one assist.
The guard continued to play well in the elimination rounds with eight points, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal in the quarterfinals vs. El Salvador before 14 points, including 4-of-7 from long range with five assists, two blocks and two steals against Colombia. She locked up the top honor after her five points with four rebounds, four assists and two blocks vs. Canada in the title game.
Howard is coming off an incredible first season at Kentucky where she was named a unanimous national freshman of the year by espnW, USBWA and WBCA. The national honors were 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.
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 while she 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.
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.