March 22, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the second consecutive season, Notre Dame senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) has been selected as one of four remaining contenders for the prestigious Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the national player of the year, it was announced Friday by the award’s presenting organization, the Atlanta Tipoff Club. It’s also the second time in a week that Diggins has been chosen as a finalist for a major national player of the year honor, having made the final 15-person ballot for the Wooden Award on March 15.
Diggins is aiming to follow the path blazed by another Notre Dame great, Ruth Riley, who not only was one of four finalists for the 2001 Naismith Trophy, but went on to become the first Fighting Irish player to receive the award that season. The other finalists for this year’s Naismith Trophy are Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Brittney Griner (Baylor) and Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford). Should Diggins earn the award, she would be the seventh honoree to receive both a Naismith Girls’ High School Player of the Year honor and a Naismith Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year award (Diggins was the high school selection in 2009).
The finalists were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on player performances this season. The 2013 Naismith Trophy recipient will be announced on April 8 in New Orleans, site of this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Beginning next Monday (March 25), AT&T wireless customers – and sports fans on other wireless networks – will be able to text their votes for the player of their choice by calling **VOTE (**8683). Fans will be eligible to cast their vote for the winner until 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, April 6. For the eighth consecutive year, AT&T is making the voting open to other wireless carriers, enabling even more fans to participate. Other wireless carriers must opt-in for their subscribers to participate, and in all cases, standard message and data rates may apply.
Earlier this month, Diggins became the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player chosen as the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year for a second consecutive season, in addition to earning unanimous first-team all-conference honors for the third year in a row (joining Riley as the only Fighting Irish women’s basketball players to pull off that feat). She also is one of seven final nominees for the Nancy Lieberman Award (going to the nation’s top point guard, an honor she received last season), a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, and is a midseason candidate for the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Player of the Year award and Naismith Trophy, as well as a member of the State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List.
Diggins has started all 32 games this season and leads the BIG EAST in assists (5.9 apg.), while ranking fourth in scoring (17.0 ppg.) and third in both steals (3.1 spg.) and free throw percentage (.820). She also is among the conference’s best in assist/turnover ratio (6th – 1.66) and three-point percentage (6th – .355), and she leads the team with 28 double-figure scoring games (giving her a school-record 116 for her career, one more than the previous Notre Dame record held by current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham from 1993-97).
Diggins was a three-time BIG EAST Player of the Week and a five-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll selection this season, as well as taking home Most Valuable Player honors at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas after leading Notre Dame to a three-game sweep and the tournament title.
Most recently, Diggins earned a spot on the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament Team for the third time in her career after averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 assists, 4.0 steals and 3.3 rebounds with a .455 three-point percentage during the three-game tournament, helping Notre Dame to its first BIG EAST postseason title in its 18th and final season in the conference. Diggins also is just the second Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to garner three conference all-tournament honors, and the first since 1989-91, when Karen Robinson was a three-time choice on the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) All-Tournament Team.
For her career, Diggins is Notre Dame’s all-time leader in steals (365), games started (139) and minutes played (4,469), in addition to her mark for career double-figure scoring games. She also ranks second with 2,270 points (just 52 shy of Cunningham’s school record) and 145 games played (six behind Brittany Mallory’s record set last year), and is third in school history with 708 career assists (70 behind Mary Gavin’s mark set from 1984-88).
Ranked No. 2 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, Notre Dame has earned the No. 1 seed in the Norfolk Region for the 2013 NCAA Championship, and will tip off tournament play at 5:05 p.m. (ET) Sunday against Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion Tennessee-Martin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 through its “whiparound coverage” (viewers in Indiana and the Chicagoland area, as well as western Tennessee, will see the game in its entirety, while the rest of the country will rotate through all four games in that time slot). Viewers also can see the game in its entirety through ESPN3/WatchESPN and the ESPN Full Court package.
Tickets for this weekend’s NCAA Championship games in Iowa City (Miami-Fla. and Iowa meet in Sunday’s other first-round game at approximately 7:35 p.m. ET, with the first-round winners meeting Tuesday night) currently are on sale through the Iowa Athletics Ticket Office (800-IA-HAWKS; hawkeyesports.com).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), visit the program’s official Facebook page (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— ND —