NaLyssa Smith is one of eight Big 12 women’s players on the Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List, the award given to the nation’s best women’s college basketball player.
The Naismith Trophy committee released the watch list on Tuesday, the first day of the regular season.
Smith is the current WBCA National Player of the Year and was named a First-Team All-American by AP, WBCA, Wooden and ESPN.com last season after averaging 18 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season. Smith also won the Katrina McClain Award last season, given to the nation’s best power forward.
Also on the list for Baylor is center Queen Egbo. Egbo was on the Lisa Leslie Final Five Watch list last season. She set career marks in points per game (11.1), rebounds per contest (8.6) and blocks per game (1.9) last season in earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors.
Iowa State’s Ashley Joens also leads the list. Joens, a second-team All-American last season, is also the defending Cheryl Miller Award winner. Last season she also earned All-Big 12 First-Team honors after averaging a school-record 24.2 points per game. She also averaged 9.5 rebounds per game and shot a career-best 46.3 percent from the field. She led the Big 12 in scoring for the second straight season.
Kansas State center Ayoka Lee also made the list. Lee set a career-high with 19.1 points per game last season and earned All-Big 12 First Team honors. She was the only player in Division I to shoot 60 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Oklahoma state guard Madi Williams made the watch list. She was an All-Big 12 First-Team selection a season ago after averaging 20 points per game for the Sooners. She also averaged 5.1 rebounds per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor. She was the third-leading scorer in the Big 12 last season.
TCU guard Lauren Heard also made the list. Heard, a super senior for the Horned Frogs, is coming off a season in which she was named All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team. She led the Horned Frogs in points (2nd, 21.2), rebounds (9th, 7.1), assists (3rd, 4.8) and steals (1st, 2.6).
Texas Tech’s Vivian Gray made the list. Gray was a Miller Award Top 10 finalist last season and First-Team All-Big 12. She also earned WBCA Coaches all-America Honorable Mention honors after averaging 19.8 points on 43.8 percent field goal shooting, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals per game.
Finally, West Virginia forward Esmery Martinez made the list. Martinez was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season after averaging with 13.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. She was unanimously selected to the 2021-22 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
**Want to win a $20 gift card? Go sign up here and join our conversation! The best poster each week wins a gift card to your favorite establishment!**