March Madness: Aliyah Boston, Caitlin Clark and the National Player of the Year debate
National Player of the Year contenders are judged on all their performance from the first tip of the season, but it’s the NCAA Tournament that makes superstars and can often have the final impact on a voter.
The 2022-23 race is again largely viewed as a two-player race between two very different players: Iowa guard Caitlin Clark and South Carolina center Aliya Boston. Villanova’s Maddie Sigrist is also a highly regarded contender, Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes is in the conversation and Angel Reese is still chatting.
Sportzshala Sports focused on the numbers, from basic to advanced to max, for Boston, Clark and Siegrist. Memorable moments and staging also matter, which is why they also include the highlights of their seasons. All statistics from Her Hoop Stats.
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Alia Boston (South Carolina, 6-5, v, v)
Average values: 13.3 ppg (333rd, 90th percentile), 9.7 rebounds (37th), 1.8 assists (991st, 71st), 0.5 assists ( 29th place), 2.0 points (30th place). Shoots 56.8% (97th percentile) at 25.8 mpg (64th percentile).
Total: 426 points (313th, 95th), 310 rebounds (18th), 57 assists (84th), 15 steals (54th), 64 blocks (17th)
Extended (all percentiles): 21.2% usage (66th), 1.11 PPP (99th), 57.1 EFG% (94th), 19.1 TRB% (98th), 10.2 TOV% (97th), 6.9 blocks% (97th)
Meaning (ranks): 7 winning shares (sixth), 4.4 WS (28th), 2.6 Def WS (ninth)
Notable points: Boston played their best statistical game in South Carolina’s biggest and decisive victory. She had 26 points on 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks against UConn in February. She has over 20 points four times and has 20 double-doubles, finishing sixth in Division I. She has a perfect 8-of-8 against Vanderbilt and has six games of 80% or better, including 7 of 8 against Maryland. .
NPOY case: All of Boston’s raw numbers are below those of her Naismith award season as a junior. She averages three fewer points (20% of her previous average), three fewer rebounds (22%) and half as many steals, dropping from the 78th percentile to the 29th percentile this season. She saw spikes in points per game, effective field goal percentage, and assist-to-assist ratio (1.46, 89th percentile).
Those falls are largely down to help around her as the defense comes crashing down and focuses on the 6ft 5in senior center. Senior quarterback Zia Cook and sixth SEC Player of the Year Camille Cardoso are huge assets to this undefeated South Carolina team and helped Boston score a goal.
Boston is the best player on the best team in the country and has the footwork, consistency and defense to win a second Player of the Year award.
Caitlin Clark (Iowa, 6-0, Jr., G)
Average values: 27 points per game (third), 7.5 rebounds (167th, 95th percentile), 8.3 assists (first), 1.4 steals per game (439th, 87th percentile), 0, 6 blocks (594th, 83rd percentile), 34 mpg (95th percentile)
Total: 864 points (second), 239 rebounds (101st, 17th among defensemen), 267 assists (first), 46 steals (94%), 19 blocks (91%)
Extended (percentile unless otherwise noted): 35.7% usage (10th), 1.04 PPP (97th), 56.1 EFG% (93rd), 47.5 ast% (first)
Value: 8.8 win shares (third), 7.4 WS (second), 1.5 Def WS (292nd)
Notable points: Clarke has four triple-doubles this season, highlighting how important she is to every aspect of the Hawkeyes, and she has 10 overall, making her second all-time in Division I women’s basketball behind Sabrina Ionescu. Her most recent result was a monster display with 30 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State, placing 3rd in the tournament. This came a week after she was off center by beating a triple against Indiana to take first place in the NCAA Tournament and finish second overall. Her best four games were against the best in NC State (45 points), Maryland (42 points/7 points/8 points) and twice in Indiana (35 points/10 points and 34 points/9 points/9 years).
NPOY case: Clarke is one of the game’s brightest scorers and the most dynamic passer, joining defenders like Ionescu as dazzle guards to cut through the social media clutter. She improved her field goals, three-point field goals, and field goals from her freshman year.
She averaged 3.4 triples per game when ranked first, and 8.9 triple attempts when ranked second. Her 108 triples and 285 attempts are number one, and her range is almost the entire half of the court. She is also one of the best in hitting the free throw line, ranking third with 202 attempts and 243 attempts (83.1% ranked third in the nation).
Clarke’s turnover rates are the worst in the DI (0th percentile ranking), but offset by so many assists that her assists to turnover ratio is in the 98th percentile (2.17). She is also in the 93rd percentile in defensive rebounding (20.8%), although she lacks defense overall.
Last season’s finalist, Clark seems to be the favorite of most of the media for breaking through and lifting the POY trophy this time around. Tasteless offensive numbers aside, her most useful item on the pro list is that without her, Iowa (26-6) would be in serious trouble. She provides most of the offense, not only by scoring goals, but also by finding teammates mostly in transition and other times.
Maddie Siegrist (Villanova, 6-2, Sr, F)
Average values: 28.9 points per game (first), 9.3 rebounds (48th), 1.5 assists (64th percentile), 1.1 assists (72nd percentile), 1.2 blocks (133 th, 96th percentile). Shoots 51.8% at 35.2 mpg
Total: 984 points (first), 317 rebounds (14th), 51 assists (80th percentile), 36 steals (88th percentile), 41 blocks (80th, 98th percentile)
Advanced: 37.6% usage (fifth), 1.14 PPP (14th), 55.3 EFG% (91st percentile), 5.4 TOV% (fourth)
Value: 10.7 win shares (1st), 8.6 from WS (1st), 2.1 Def WS (37th)
Notable points: Last month, Siegrist scored a season-high 50 points on 76.9% (20 of 26) shooting against Seton Hall. She never scored less than 21 points, which she did against UConn in the Big East Championship game, as well as against Marquette and Marist.
NPOY case: Siegrist, like Clark, is incredibly important to Villanova, and the winning share numbers prove it. She shoots more three-pointers than Boston and has a 37.3% shooting rate.
Her case for national player of the year falls short when looking at her games ranked from best to worst in scoring and efficiency. Her worst shooting games, all under 41%, were mostly against Iowa State’s top talent, Baylor and DePaul. UConn kept it below 43% in all three games.
Angel Reese (LSU, 6-3, So., F)
Average values: 23.4 points per game (fifth), 15.5 rebounds (second), 2.2 assists (80th percentile), 1.7 assists (92nd percentile), 1.4 blocks (97th percentile) percentile); shoots 54% overall for 33.3 mpg
Total: 701 points (fifth), 464 rebounds (second), 65 assists (87th percentile), 50 steals (95th percentile), 42 blocks (71st)
Advanced: Utilization rate 29.4% (96%), 1.05 PPP (98%), 54.1 EFG% (89%), 24.1 TRB% (fourth), ahead of 20.4 ORB% (fourth)
Value: 9.6 win shares (second), 6.7 from WS (third), 3.0 def WS (first)
Notable points: Reese season records: 36 points vs. Ole Miss, 28 rebounds vs….