Nov. 18, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) and freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) have been chosen as preseason candidates for the 2010 Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player, it was announced Wednesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Barlow and Diggins are among a group of 50 players who have been named preseason candidates to this year’s Naismith Trophy based upon their on-court performance last season as well as expectations for success this season — the Atlanta Tipoff Club Board of Selectors compiled this year’s preseason watch list.
Notre Dame was one of only six women’s basketball programs in the country to place more than one player on this year’s Naismith Trophy preseason chart, joining Connecticut, North Carolina, Ohio State, Stanford and Xavier in that elite company. It’s the second consecutive preseason Naismith selection for Barlow, while Diggins is one of three freshmen appearing on this season’s watch list, along with Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Baylor’s Brittney Griner.
Barlow, who scored 15 points in 16 minutes during Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday night, is a returning two-time all-BIG EAST Conference honoree, having copped second-team laurels a season ago with a team-high 12.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, as well as a career-high .364 three-point percentage. A preseason all-conference choice last month, Barlow is one of only four players in school history to record at least 60 steals in three consecutive seasons (she had a career-high 70 thefts last year) and she is 20th in program history with 1,122 points. What’s more, she needs just 23 rebounds to become just the second player in school annals (after former teammate Charel Allen, 2004-08) with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in her career.
Meanwhile, Diggins was chosen as the 2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year, and had a solid college debut on Sunday night against UAPB, collecting 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. She’s coming off a final prep season that saw her named the consensus 2008-09 national high school player of the year, as well as the ’08-09 Gatorade National High School Female Athlete of the Year (for all sports) during a ceremony held just prior to the ESPY Awards this past summer in Los Angeles.
Diggins averaged 29.0 points and 6.3 assists per game last season, leading Washington High School to the cusp of the Indiana Class 4A title and the mythical prep national championship before a last-second loss in the final. She went on to earn MVP honors at both the McDonald’s and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) High School All-America Games (joining former Tennessee guard Alexis Hornbuckle as the only players ever to pull off that double) and she was a co-captain on the 2009 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team that won the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, back in August.
The BIG EAST had eight players named to this year’s Naismith Trophy preseason candidate list. Other league players to be chosen included: Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes (Connecticut), Deirdre Naughton (DePaul), Angel Robinson (Marquette) and Da’Shena Stevens (St. John’s). The Atlantic Coast Conference led all leagues with nine players on the Naismith Trophy watch list, followed by the BIG EAST and the Big 12 (7) – Moore took home last year’s award.
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the Top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists. In April, the Naismith Trophy winner will be honored at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.
Barlow, Diggins and the No. 5/6-ranked Irish (1-0) return to action Thursday night, traveling to 21st-ranked Michigan State for a 6 p.m. (ET) contest that will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Notre Dame then comes home on Sunday to face Iona in a 2 p.m. (ET) matinee at Purcell Pavilion. Tickets for that matchup, and all Irish women’s basketball games, may still be purchased by contacting the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), going on-line by visiting the official Fighting Irish athletics tickets web page (www.und.com/tickets) or in person on game day by visiting the ticket windows on the east side of Notre Dame Stadium (facing Purcell Pavilion).
— ND —