The transfer portal, conference reorganization, and extra seasons granted to NCAA players due to the COVID-19 pandemic have completely changed the landscape of women’s college basketball. Conference MVP racing, especially in the small leagues and mid leagues, is one of the hardest hit areas. In some leagues, the current winner returns for a fifth or even sixth season. And in some conferences, the strongest contender may be a once-highly regarded recruit who is now settling into his third school away from the Power 5 spotlight.
The pursuit of the National Player of the Year looks like it’s about to break, just like it did last season, with South Carolina Gamecocks leader Aliya Boston and Iowa Hawkeyes’ Caitlin Clark nearly even but a distance ahead of the rest.
It’s much harder to predict every conference player of the year. May this serve as a guide to all of college basketball’s personnel changes and who can be the best of the best in every league in the 2022-23 season.
Go to each league:
American | America East | ACC | Atlantic sun | A-10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big sky | Big South | Big Ten | Big West | CAA | C-USA | Horizon | ivy | MAAK | MAC | IEAC | MVK | MW | NEC | HVAC | Pak-12 | Patriot | mall | SoCon | Southland | SWAC | Summit | Solar belt | WCC | WAC
American Sports Conference
Elena Zineke, 5’9, G, South Florida Bulls
The Greek native was AAC Freshman of the Year and named to the All-Conference First Team in her sophomore and junior years. This should be the next step in a conference that the Bulls are looking forward to winning. Zineke was third in the AAC in scoring (14.3 ppg) among juniors and was the league’s top free throw taker (83.7%).
Best Opponent: Savannah Wilkinson, 6-0, F, SMU Mustangs
Her 14 double-doubles led the conference and helped the Mustangs reach the playoffs (WNIT First Round) for the first time since 2017.
Ann Simon, 5-8 years old, G, Maine Black Bears
As the league leader in scoring (16.0 ppg) and steals (2.8 ppg), it’s no surprise that Simon was named America East’s 2022 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Even less surprising is that she again became the favorite for both awards. Leading up to her fourth season, Simon had already led the Black Bears to 35 overall wins, two regular season championships, and one tournament title.
Best Opponent: Kayla Cooper, 6-0, G, Great Danes of Albany
Cooper, one of the top rebounders in the conference and America East’s most outstanding player, could be poised for a breakthrough in his junior season.
Elizabeth Keatley, age 6-6, C, Virginia Tech
Losing the FGCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament wasn’t what Keatley wanted to end one of the best seasons in Virginia Tech history for, but her 42-point record was the perfect indicator of just how dominant a center can be. A year ago, Keatley ranked second in the ACC in scoring (18.1 points per game), rebounding (9.8 rebounds) and blocks (2.4 shots per game) and was first with a 55.1 field goal percentage. Those numbers made her Conference Player of the Year, and if she wins again this season, she’ll be her third consecutive ACC winner behind Louisville’s Asia Durr (2018, 2019) and Dana Evans (2020, 2021).
Best Opponent: Olivia Miles, 5-10, G, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Miles, considered by many to be the sport’s top distributor, with improved three-point shooting, could join Keatley as an All-American.
Tishara Morehouse, 5-3, G, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
Kirsten Bell, winner of the award for the past two years, is now in the WNBA, so the FGCU is now officially Morehouse’s team. The fifth-year senior led the conference in assists last season (4.7 assists) and is the top scorer (14.7 points per game).
Best Opponent: Mia Berkman, 6-3, C, Liberty Flames
A season ago, the super senior was on the first team in all conferences and finished third in the nation with a 66.3 field goal percentage.
Sam Breen, 6-1, F, UMass Minutewomen
As if an average double-double (17.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg) and an A-10 Player of the Year win wasn’t enough, Brin, now a sixth year student, scored 31 points against Notre Dame in first NCAA UMass. tournament play since 1998.
Top Competitors: Anna DeWolfe, 5-8, G, Fordham Rams
The conference’s leading scorer over the past two seasons, DeWolfe has already won the award once (2021) and made the All-A-10 First Team twice.
Maddie Sigrist, 6-1, F, Villanova Wildcats
Her 27.9 points per game in the Big East games last season broke a 30-year-old record and became her conference player of the year. Siegrist’s 25.3 points overall was good for second in the nation, and she was also second in the conference with 9.9 rebounds per game.
Top Competitors: Anisa Morrow, 6-1, F, DePaul Blue Demons
In a career year, Morrow (21.9 ppg, 13.8 rpg) already holds 13 Big East records, including all major rebounds. She led the nation in rebounding and all freshmen in scoring en route to the National Freshman of the Year award.
Isnelle Natabu, 6-5, C, Sacramento State Hornets
Transferring from Juko, Natabu became Big Sky’s Rookie of the Year after leading the league in rebounding (10.9 rebounds) and field goal percentage (64.3%) with 14.7 points per game.
Best Opponent: Darian White, 5-6, G, Montana State Bobcats
Selected to the Big Sky First Team and Defensive Player of the Year, White was second in the conference in scoring (15.6 ppg) and first in steals (2.5 ppg).
Jessica Williams, 5-10 years old, F, Gardner-Webb Running Bulldogs
With incremental improvement over his four-year career, Williams (16.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) is looking to use his super senior season to break through as player of the year and land Gardner-Webb in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time. (2011).
Best Opponent: Nyla Young, 5-11, F, Hampton Lady Pirates
Two 30-point games last season show just how dominant Young can be (15.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Ashley Jones, 6-1, F, Iowa State Cyclones
Perhaps the only thing Joans hasn’t achieved in her career with the Cyclones is not being a Top 10 Player of the Year. She is the program’s all-time leading scorer and has averaged over 20 points and nine rebounds in each of the past three seasons (20.9 points per game, 9.5 rebounds in 2022). Joens’ decision to return for a fifth year is the main reason the Cyclones were the Big 12’s preseason favorites for the first time since the 2000-2001 season.
Best Opponent: Rory Harmon, 5-6, G, Texas Longhorns
Harmon (11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.0 apg) became a rising star after leading the Longhorns to Big 12 and Elite Eight tournament wins.
Caitlin Clark, 6-0, G, Iowa Hawkeyes
The most dynamic striker in the country is also likely to be the most talked about. Her unlimited shooting range often draws more attention than the fact that she was the first Division I player to lead the nation in scoring (27.0 ppg) and assists (8.0 apg) in the same season. Clark, still a junior, would be at the top of every national player of the year honors list.
Top Competitors: Jaycee Sheldon, 5-10, G, Ohio State, Buckeyes.
The surprising and effective Sheldon (19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 1.9 assists) may be the best two-way defenseman in a conference full of backcourt talent.
Eli Lane, 6-4, C, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Among the best players in the Big West since she arrived in Santa Barbara in 2019, it’s possible Lane will make it to the top this season. She led the nation in rebounding in the 2019-20 freshman season with 13.0 rebounds. That number dropped to 9.7 last season, but it still leads the conference, as does its field goal percentage (58.0%) and double-double (12).
Best Rival: Lili Wahinekapu, 5-7, G, Hawaii Rainbow Women
Last year’s Big West Freshman of the Year in California State, Fullerton moved west to help Hawaii defend its conference title.
Colonial Athletic Association
Keishana Washington, 5-7, G, Drexel Dragons
The backbone of a program that got better every season, Washington was second in the CAA with 19.2 points per game and helped the Dragons achieve the best winning percentage in school history (28-6), a regular season championship, and a WNIT third round. appearance. The ball is expected to be in Washington’s hands even more this season, and she could become one of the nation’s top scorers.
Best Opponent: Jenna Annecchiariko, 5-6, G, Charleston Cougars
League-leading assists and leading scorer for the Cougars a year ago, supersenior Annecchiariko is trying to help Charleston have their best season since 2014.
Keyunna Walker, 5-6, G, Louisiana, Techsters Technician
After career highs in scoring (18.9 points), rebounding (4.4 rebounds), assists (2.7 assists) and field goal percentage (42.7%), Walker decided to return for a fifth year to try lead the Bulldogs to their first conference title. of any kind since winning the WAC in 2011.
Best Contender: Savannah Wheeler, 5-6, Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders.
A two-time U.S. Champion at Marshall before moving to Middle Tennessee for her senior season, Wheeler led the league in scoring (20.2 points per game) a year ago.
Destiny Leo, 5-10, G, Cleveland State Vikings
In his freshman year, Leo was the league’s sixth player of the year. Last season, she led the Horizon in scoring (18.7 points per game), three-pointers per game (2.5), and three-point field goal percentage (39.2%).
Best Opponent: Megan Walstad, 6-2, F, Milwaukee Panthers
Walstad led the team in scoring in each of the three seasons she played in Milwaukee, but her chances of challenging Leo for Horizon Player of the Year may depend on whether the Panthers improve on last year’s sixth-place finish.
Julia Cunningham, 5-11, G, Princeton Tigers
Somewhat overshadowed by last year’s winner Abby Meyers, Cunningham should be ready to take on the Tigers’ leadership role. Senior averaged 13.4 points per game and 5.4 assists per game and hit double figures in all but five games. With this consistency and increased field goal percentage…