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NCAA basketball 2023 awards picks: Year of Caitlin Clark


March still has plenty of madness left for college basketball fans as the Sweet 16 tips off Friday, but as the season draws to a close, so too are the campaigns of the biggest stars in the game. There have been plenty of memorable performances this season, both by teams and individuals.

While the remaining 16 squads battle it out for the NCAA title, it’s time for individual awards. Here are my picks for Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and the All-American Teams.

Player of the Year: Caitlin Clark, Iowa

It’s been the year of Caitlin Clark in women’s basketball. The Iowa star is averaging 26.8 points per game (third in the country), 8.6 assists per game (first in the country) and 7.3 rebounds per game. Stats aren’t everything, but Clark’s paint a compelling picture. This season, she’s led her team to a 28-6 record, a Big Ten tournament title and, so far, an appearance in the Sweet 16 (the Hawkeyes play Colorado on Friday afternoon for a spot in the Elite Eight).

Thanks to her logo 3-pointers, Clark is regarded as a prolific scorer. The junior certainly knows how to put the ball in the basket, but there is much more to her game. Her ability to read the floor, run the fastbreak and find teammates with precise passes is also what sets her apart.

The Hawkeyes are an excellent offensive team, scoring an NCAA-leading 87.4 points per game. Offensively, everything that happens for Iowa happens because of Caitlin Clark. And for that reason, she’s my Player of the Year.

(Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

Coach of the Year: Lynne Roberts, Utah

In just one season, Roberts has elevated her team from a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 squad (8-7 conference record, 21-12 overall in 2021-22), to one of the conference’s best contenders. The Utes finished the regular season with just four losses, including an undefeated record at home. They also reached their highest-ever AP ranking, rising to No. 3 at one point, and now find themselves in the Sweet 16 for just the third time in school history.

Roberts had a solid foundation last season, with players like Kennedy McQueen, Jenna Johnson, Gianna Keepkens and Issy Palmer all returning after a first-round victory in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. And while the Utes would have been good with that core, Roberts set out to make them great by securing Alissa Pili from USC in the transfer portal.

Roberts managed to integrate Pili into the lineup seamlessly and, with just one addition, changed the make-up of her entire team.

(Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Defensive Player of the Year: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

The reigning DPOY gets the nod once again as she continues to dominate for undefeated South Carolina. Boston has her team positioned as the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament once more, and her defense is a big reason why.

She’s averaging 2.0 blocks and 6.3 defensive rebounds per game, but more importantly, offenses have to game plan around the South Carolina big. She changes the way teams attack the Gamecocks because they have to be wary of her in the paint. Boston also allows her teammates to be aggressive in their defensive matchups because, if they get beat, she’s there to clean up with a block, an altered shot or a rebound.

South Carolina allows the fewest points per game in the country at 50.6, a statistic made possible by their rim protector.

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Freshman of the Year: Ta’Niya Latson

Unfortunately, Latson didn’t get to showcase her skills in the NCAA Tournament. An injury kept the guard on the bench during Florida State’s opening-round loss to Georgia, but she did enough during the regular season to secure the Freshman of the Year award.

Latson, a five-star recruit, more than lived up to the hype in her first season at Florida State. She helped her team to a 23-10 record after the Seminoles went 17-14 the season before. Her 21.9 points per game ranked 11th among all NCAA players, and she contributed 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Latson recorded 34 points twice this season, 32 points twice and 31 points on three separate occasions.

The guard was also consistent with her scoring, finishing with fewer than 15 points only five times this season, and scoring in double figures in 29 of 31 games.

Angel Reese broke Sylvia Fowles' LSU record with 20 consecutive double-doubles this season. (Andrew Nelles/USA TODAY NETWORK)


First Team

Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Alissa Pili (Utah), Maddy Siegrist (Villanova), Angel Reese (LSU)

Second Team

Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech), MaKenzie Holmes (Indiana), Diamond Miller (Maryland), Cameron Brink (Stanford), Olivia Miles (Notre Dame)

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.