March 27, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third time in three weeks, Notre Dame senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) has been chosen as a finalist for a major national player of the year award, as the Fighting Irish floor general is one of 12 remaining candidates for the 2013 State Farm Wade Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's most outstanding NCAA Division I women's basketball player. The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS), the two organizations that coordinate the award, along with the State Farm Wade Trophy Committee, announced this year's 12 finalists on Wednesday.
Diggins, who also was named a finalist for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy less tha a month ago, and was a candidate for all three honors last year, is looking to become the first Notre Dame player to earn the State Farm Wade Trophy, with Ruth Riley the only prior Fighting Irish cager to be chosen as a finalist when she was among the leading candidates for the honor in 2001 (the award went to Missouri State's Jackie Stiles that season).
Joining Diggins on this year's rundown of State Farm Wade Trophy contenders are: Layshia Clarendon (California), Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut), Brittney Griner (Baylor), Maggie Lucas (Penn State), A'dia Mathies (Kentucky), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Connecticut), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Meighan Simmons (Tennessee), Odyssey Sims (Baylor) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland).
The 2013 finalists were selected by a vote of the State Farm Wade Trophy Committee, whose members are comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators. This committee also will select the recipient of the 2013 State Farm Wade Trophy from the 10-member NCAA Division I State Farm Coaches' All-America Team, with the recipient to be announced during the WBCA Awards Show at 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET) April 8 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center's New Orleans Theater in New Orleans. The event is part of the WBCA National Convention and is held in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four.
Diggins is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to be both a four-time WBCA all-region selection and a two-time BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, staking her claim to both accolades earlier this month. She also was a unanimous first-team all-conference honoree 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.
Diggins has started all 34 games this season and leads the BIG EAST in assists (5.9 apg.), while ranking fourth in scoring (16.8 ppg.) and third in both steals (3.0 spg.; school record-tying 102 steals overall) and free throw percentage (.821). She also is among the conference's best in assist/turnover ratio (6th - 1.62) and three-point percentage (6th - .345), and she leads the team with 30 double-figure scoring games (giving her a school-record 118 for her career, three 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.
In early March, 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 became 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 (369), games started (141) and minutes played (4,539), in addition to her mark for career double-figure scoring games. She also ranks second with 2,296 points (just 26 shy of Cunningham's school record) and 147 games played (four behind Brittany Mallory's record set last year), and is third in school history with 719 career assists (59 behind Mary Gavin's mark set from 1984-88).
No. 2 Notre Dame (33-1) will continue postseason play as the top-seeded Fighting Irish move into the NCAA Sweet 16 and a Norfolk Regional semifinal matchup with 12th-seeded Kansas at noon (ET) Sunday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPN and ESPNHD, with additional coverage on ESPN3/WatchESPN.
Tickets for this weekend's NCAA Norfolk Regional games (No. 2 seed Duke and sixth-seeded Nebraska meet in Sunday's other regional semifinal at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET, with the semifinal winners meeting at 7 p.m. (ET) Tuesday) currently are on sale through the Old Dominion University Athletics Ticket Office (757-683-4444; odusports.com/tickets), with those interested in sitting in or near the Notre Dame fan section encouraged to identify themselves as Fighting Irish supporters when calling or e-mailing.
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.