Nov. 9, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third 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 Naismith Trophy candidate list, it was announced Tuesday by the award's sponsor, the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The award, named for the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate women's basketball player. The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2010-11 college basketball season. A total of 50 players, representing 37 different schools, were named to this year's preseason Naismith Trophy candidate roster.
Diggins also was named to the Naismith Trophy watch list last season (along with teammate Ashley Barlow), as she aims to become the first Notre Dame player since Ruth Riley in 2001 to take home the prestigious award.
Since August, Diggins also has been named to the preseason "Wade Watch" list for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, and the John R. Wooden Award watch list, with both honors also presented annually to the nation's top collegiate women's basketball player. In addition, Diggins was 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), earned votes for the Associated Press Preseason All-America Team, and was a unanimous choice for preseason all-BIG EAST Conference honors when that team was announced at the BIG EAST Media Day in New York City last month.
Like the other preseason national player of the year watch lists, Diggins is among just a handful of sophomores on the 2010-11 preseason Naismith Trophy candidate rundown, along with Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Brittney Griner (Baylor), A'dia Mathies (Kentucky), Sugar Rodgers (Georgetown) and Shenneika Smith (St. John's).
Collectively, the BIG EAST Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference had the most players selected for the Naismith Trophy list with nine each -- Connecticut's Tiffany Hayes and Maya Moore (the 2010 Naismith Trophy recipient), DePaul's Keisha Hampton, West Virginia's Sarah Miles, Louisville's Monique Reid and St. John's Da'Shena Stevens joined Diggins, Rodgers and Smith in representing the BIG EAST.
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. The Naismith Trophy then will be awarded on April 4, 2011, at the NCAA Women's Final Four in Indianapolis. For more information, including details on fan voting that will account for 25 percent of the final results, visit the official Naismith Trophy web site at www.naismithawards.com.
As a freshman in '09-10, Diggins was an AP 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 (13.8 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).
Diggins and the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish will tip off the 2010-11 regular season at 4 p.m. (ET) Friday when they play host to New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion. At that game, Notre Dame will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 2001 NCAA national championship season, including a special halftime ceremony and a pre-game autograph session with the players from that team.
Single-game and season tickets for all Fighting Irish women's basketball games in 2010-11 are on sale through the Murnane Family Ticket Office, or by going on-line to the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web page (www.UND.com/tickets).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (www.twitter.com/ndwbbsid or www.twitter.com/notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women's basketball page at UND.com.