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Can DePaul’s Aneesah Morrow win Player of the Year?

(Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Aneesah Morrow’s numbers are astounding.

The sophomore forward is averaging a double-double per game. She leads her team in points per game (26.1) and rebounds per game (12.1). She paces the team in steals (33) and blocks (12) so far this season.

Morrow has posted two 40-plus point games and one 35-point game. She has scored less than 22 points just twice in 11 contests.

Those numbers place her among the best in the country – her points average is fourth in the NCAA, while her rebound mark is sixth. On paper, Morrow is a clear player of the year candidate. In reality, she looks like one, too.

But Morrow finds herself overshadowed by players like Aliyah Boston of South Carolina and Caitlin Clark of Iowa.

Last season, her numbers were similar, and she led the country in rebounds. But her problem then is her problem now. The Bostons, Clarks, Cameron Brinks and Azzi Fudds of the world – all of whom have a shot at the POY award – play for national powerhouses, or at least programs who are in the spotlight.

Morrow plays for DePaul. And that is why her name is rarely brought up as a legitimate contender for the ultimate college basketball award. Fair or not, that is the reality of the basketball landscape.

Just look at the last 10 Naismith winners. UConn appears four times, South Carolina twice, and Oregon, Baylor and Iowa once each. The only school that may come as a surprise is Washington, thanks to 2017 winner and Huskies great Kelsey Plum.

Circumstances would have to align in a very specific way for Morrow to win the award, but there is a path. Morrow is good enough, but her circumstances may not be – at least not right now.

For starters, each winner since the trophy’s creation in 1983 has come from a ranked team – generally one in at least the top 10. The same is true of the Associated Press POY award, which was first handed out in 1995.

The path for Morrow to gain traction in the POY race starts in the team rankings

No matter how strong a player may be – even if they are 26.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game good – if their team isn’t winning against top competition, then they will not secure major awards. And that’s fair. The objective of basketball, after all, is to win games.

DePaul is not in the AP Top 25, and the Blue Demons received just two votes in the most recent poll. The team did creep into the national conversation with a win over Maryland on Nov. 25, in which Morrow recorded 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead her team to victory.

But the Blue Demons followed that game with a loss to Towson. And making matters worse for Morrow, the sophomore finished with just 16 points, fouling out and committing six turnovers, though she did still grab 16 rebounds for a double-double.

Luckily for DePaul, and for the Morrow for POY campaign, the Blue Demons have plenty of big-name opponents on their schedule. They play a struggling Louisville on Dec. 21, and though unranked, the Cardinals have name recognition, which DePaul needs. Then comes Big East play, where the Blue Demons will have cracks at No. 16 Creighton, Marquette, No. 9 UConn and No. 25 Villanova. 

For Morrow to have a real shot at the POY award, she will have to continue at her current pace – posting double-doubles game after game.

The Blue Demon star went down with an injury against Howard on Dec. 12, which could impact her chances. But if she returns quickly and has a few big games – one of those 40-pointers would do the trick – against some of those teams, and DePaul is able to secure upsets, then she would transform from a long shot to a true POY contender.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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