Oct. 5, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the second time this preseason, Notre Dame women’s basketball sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) has received recognition on a national player of the year award watch list, earning a spot on the 2010-11 preseason John R. Wooden Women’s Award candidate list, it was announced Tuesday by the award’s sponsor, the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
The award, named for the late legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach, is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player who also best exemplifies the term “student-athlete.” Diggins is one of 30 players who have been named preseason candidates to this year’s Wooden Women’s Award based upon their on-court performance last season as well as their team’s success.
Diggins becomes the fifth Fighting Irish player named to the preseason Wooden Women’s Award candidate list in the past eight seasons, and the first since Charel Allen was chosen prior to the 2007-08 campaign. Jacqueline Batteast was the most recent Notre Dame cager to appear on the final Wooden Award ballot, making that rundown in 2004-05.
Back in August, Diggins was among a group of 25 players named to the preseason “Wade Watch” list for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, also presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player. She also has been tapped as a 2010-11 preseason All-American by The Sporting News (first team), Athlon Sports college basketball preview (second team) and Lindy’s college basketball preview (third team).
“We are very proud of Skylar for being selected to the Wooden Award watch list,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Skylar personifies the qualities of a `student-athlete’ that Coach Wooden preached throughout his career and that this award is known for. She represents our program and our University in a special way and we’re excited to see what this season will bring for Skylar and our entire team when we tip off practice on Thursday.”
As a freshman in ’09-10, Diggins was an Associated Press and State Farm Coaches’ honorable mention All-America choice, in addition to earning second-team all-BIG EAST plaudits and a unanimous selection to the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Those honors came following one of the finest rookie seasons in the 33-year history of Fighting Irish women’s basketball, with Diggins becoming the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead Notre Dame in scoring and the first Fighting Irish rookie in 16 years to top 100 assists in her debut season. What’s more, she finished as just the third player in program history (and the first freshman) to log 400 points, 100 assists and 75 steals in a single season, joining a pair of All-Americans and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (top senior in the nation 5-foot-8 and under) recipients — current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (2000-01) and Megan Duffy (2004-05) — in achieving that distinction.
Diggins led Notre Dame in scoring (13.9 ppg.), steals (2.6 spg.) and assists (tied – 3.2 apg.) last season, while ranking third on the squad in three-point percentage (.350) and free throw percentage (.782). She also chalked up a team-high 24 double-digit scoring games, including seven 20-point outings, capped by a season-high 31 points against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion. That scoring effort was the highest ever recorded by a Fighting Irish rookie in NCAA postseason play, while her 13 field goals made tied the program record for an NCAA tournament game.
In 2009-10, Diggins set Notre Dame freshman records for steals (90), free throws made (111), free throws attempted (142) and minutes played (1,028), while ranking among the top five on the Fighting Irish rookie charts for points (3rd – 484), scoring average (tied/4th – 13.8 ppg.), field goals made (3rd – 169), field goals attempted (3rd – 385), three-point field goals made (4th – 35), three-point attempts (5th – 100), three-point percentage (5th – .350), assists (3rd – 112), steals per game (2nd – 2.6 spg.), games started (tied/2nd – 30), games played (2nd – 35) and minutes per game (5th – 29.4).
Like the “Wade Watch” list, Diggins is one of just four sophomores on the 2010-11 preseason Wooden Women’s Award candidate roster, along with Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Brittney Griner (Baylor) and Sugar Rodgers (Georgetown). Collectively, the BIG EAST Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference had the most players selected for the Wooden Award list with five each — Connecticut’s Tiffany Hayes and Maya Moore (the 2009 John R. Wooden Women’s Award recipient), and DePaul’s Deirdre Naughton join Diggins, Rodgers in representing the BIG EAST.
In December, the Wooden Award will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official national ballot that lists approximately 20 players. In order to be considered for the national ballot, a player must be certified by her school as having met the Award’s requirements, which include making progress toward her degree and maintaining a minimum 2.0 grade-point average (GPA). The five-member Wooden All-America Team will be announced during the last week of March, with the presentation of that team and the 2011 Award recipienttaking place during a weekend celebration April 8-10 in Los Angeles.
Diggins is one of two starters and eight monogram winners who will be returning for Notre Dame in 2010-11, joined by a three-player freshman class that has been ranked as high as ninth in the country by some media outlets. The Fighting Irish are coming off a 29-6 season that saw them rise to No. 3 in the national polls and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the eighth time in the past 14 years.
— ND —