Nov. 30, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third time this year, three Notre Dame women's basketball players -- junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington), senior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) -- have received recognition on a national player of the year award watch list, as the trio are among a group of 51 players chosen for the 2011-12 preseason candidate list for the Naismith Trophy, it was announced Wednesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, the award's organizer.
The Naismith Trophy, named for the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate women's basketball player. This year's Naismith Trophy 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 2011-12 college basketball season. The 51 players on this year's watch list represent 35 different schools and 13 separate conferences.
In February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile its Midseason Top 30 List, before the Naismith Trophy voting academy trims that roster down to four finalists in March. The Naismith Trophy will be presented during the NCAA Women's Final Four April 1-3 in Denver.
With this year's selections, the Fighting Irish now have had six players named to the Naismith Trophy candidate list in the past three seasons. Diggins is on the Naismith Trophy preseason chart for the third consecutive year, while Novosel and Peters each are making their first appearance on the list. Notre Dame is one of just three schools in the country (along with fellow BIG EAST Conference member Connecticut and Tennessee) to have three players named to this year's Naismith Trophy watch list, while the BIG EAST dominated this year's candidate rundown with 12 selections (nearly one-quarter of the entire preseason list) -- the Big 12 was next with seven, while the ACC and SEC had six, the Big Ten had five, the Pac-12 had four and the Colonial had three (no other conference fielded more than two).
During the preseason, Diggins, Novosel and Peters were named to two other watch lists for national player of the year awards -- they were among a group of 25 players named to the "Wade Watch" list for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, as well as part of the 30-player preseason roster for the John R. Wooden Award, presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
The Fighting Irish trio (who helped the United States win the gold medal and post a 6-0 record at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China) also were tapped as 2011-12 preseason All-Americans in college basketball preview issues by a variety of publications, including The Sporting News (Diggins-first team; Novosel-second team; Peters-third team) and Athlon Sports (Diggins-first team). They went on to be recognized by the BIG EAST coaches during the league's annual Media Day in New York back in October, with Diggins being voted the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, while Novosel and Peters joined her on the preseason all-conference team.
Diggins currently ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (3rd - 20.8 ppg.), steals (tied-2nd - 3.2 spg.), assists (tied-4th - 5.0 apg.), free throw percentage (7th - .872), field goal percentage (11th - .518) and assist-to-turnover ratio (11th - 1.5). Meanwhile, Novosel is seventh in the league in scoring (17.2 ppg.) and Peters is 14th in steals (2.3 spg.).
Third-ranked Notre Dame (5-1) is back at home at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday, playing host to Pennsylvania at Purcell Pavilion. A limited number of tickets are still available for the game (574-631-7356; UND.com/tickets), which will feature the first of five cornerstone "Heart of the Irish" community outreach events this season -- the annual Teddy Bear Toss in which fans are invited to bring a teddy bear or other stuffed animal to the game and toss it onto the court at halftime, with all donated items going to local pediatric patients, including those at Riley Children's Hospital in South Bend.
for those not able to attend the game in person, it will be webcast live and free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, through the Fighting Irish Video Channel.
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 @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.