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Cal Basketball

Anigwe Wins 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award

April 7, 2019
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BERKELEY  -  After a remarkable senior season that saw her dominate the court and rewrite the record books, Cal senior Kristine Anigwe has been named the National Defensive Player of the Year, announced on Sunday morning as the winner of the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Bona. The 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and the leading rebounder in the nation this season at 16.2 rebounds per game, Anigwe beat out fellow finalists Lauren Cox (Baylor), Ae’Rianna Harris (Purdue) and last year’s winner, Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State).

Washington’s Matisse Thybull was named the men’s Defensive Player of the Year. The winners were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, who based their selections on outstanding on-court defensive performances during the 2018-19 college basketball season.


“I could not be more proud of and excited for Kristine,” Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “To be named the National Defensive Player of the Year is such an incredible honor and is so significant to be at the top of the game in what was one of the best years in women’s college basketball history. I think Kristine is truly deserving of this award. She got every defensive rebound out there, she blocked and altered shots, and maybe what people don’t see quite as obviously, she let us run any defensive scheme with her ability to guard guards or handle bigs one-on-one in the post. I think this award really recognizes what a special year she had and what a special player she is.”

The first four-time All-American in program history and a late season finalist for nearly every National Player of the Year honor, Anigwe was the top rebounder in the nation this season at 16.2 rebounds per game, nearly three rebounds per game ahead of any other player – male or female – in the country. Her 533 total rebounds this season marked the highest single-season rebounding total ever by a Pac-12 player and the sixth-most in a single-season in Division I women’s basketball history. Along with her presence on the glass, Anigwe was a commanding a versatile presence in the paint,averaging 1.7 blocks per game and 1.0 steals per game on the year.­­

A 6’4” center/forward, Anigwe finished the 2018-19 season averaging 22.3 points per game and 16.2 rebounds per game on the season, the first Division I women’s player in 30 years to average over 22 points per game and 16 rebounds per game over the course of the season. Only two other women in the 38 seasons of Division I women’s basketball  -  Patricia Hoskins (1986-87, 1988- 89) and Wanda Ford (1984-85, 1985-86) – have averaged as many points and rebounds per game in a single season as Anigwe did to close out her Cal career. 

“I'm truly honored to receive this award. There are so many great players who have had amazing seasons, and it’s humbling to be in that group,” Anigwe said. “I'm so grateful for everyone who has been in my corner these four years - my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, and more. This season was for them. It was for everyone who has believed in me and pushed me to be better. Even a year ago, I never would have guessed that I would be the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, much less that National Defensive Player of the Year.  [Cal associate head coach Charmin Smith] constantly told me I could be a better rebounder and a better defender with hard work and persistence, and I think I tried to really honor her by doing just that. [Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb] believed in my abilities since I got to Cal and has been my rock. She has the capability of building great players and even better people. I love this program and the people in it for everything they have done for me and I am honored to represent it with this award.”

In addition to her defensive dominance, Anigwe was also once of the top offensive threats in the nation, ranked ninth in the country in scoring at 22.5 points per game on the season, a new career best. Anigwe finished the 2018-19 campaign with 742 total points, setting a new Cal single-season scoring record. Anigwe’s performance on the offensive came against constant double- and triple-teams, yet she still shot 51 percent from the floor on the season and had six games with 30 or more points. 

Anigwe also proved to be the model of consistency, posting a double-double in 32 of her 33 games this season. Anigwe had a streak of 33 consecutive double-doubles from her final game of the 2017-18 campaign through Cal’s win over North Carolina in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, tied for the second-longest double-double streak in Division I women’s basketball history. Former Oklahoma standout and Piedmont-native Courtney Paris is the only player with more double-doubles in a row than Anigwe. 

A finalist for the 2019 Lisa Leslie Award as the top center in the nation, Anigwe is Cal’s all-time leader in career points (2,591 points), rebounding (1,404 rebounds), and blocked shots (205 blocks). She ranks third in Pac-12 history in career rebounds and fourth in career scoring, joining only former Stanford standout Chiney Ogwumike as the only player in conference history in the top five in both categories.

After closing out her decorated Cal career by leading the Bears to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, Anigwe is projected to be a First Round pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft. Anigwe looks to become the eighth Cal player to be selected in the WNBA Draft. The Golden Bears have had three players selected in the first round, with Layshia Clarendon (2013) and Brittany Boyd (2015) both selected ninth overall their respective years.

The 2019 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm will be held on Wednesday, April 10 at the Nike New York Headquarters. ESPN2 will air the first round beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, followed by coverage of the second and third rounds on ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The draft will also be streamed live on the ESPN app. Comprehensive coverage of the 2019 WNBA Draft can be found on WNBA.com. 

Discussion from...

Anigwe Wins 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award

calbear80
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Congrats KA. Well deserved.

P.S. We will really miss you next season.
ncbears
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And soon, a #31 uniform will be hanging in the rafters.
GoBears635
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Figuratively speaking, of course, since there aren't ANY uniforms in the rafters of Haas. They're all in glass cases out front.
ncbears
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GoBears635 said:

Figuratively speaking, of course, since there aren't ANY uniforms in the rafters of Haas. They're all in glass cases out front.
I think I knew that. But, they used to be in the rafters!
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