Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith had the opportunity to state her case for National Player of the Year during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Tuesday.
Smith is a top candidate for every national player of the year award, including the Wooden Award. She is reigning Wade Trophy winner, given to the national player of the year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
ESPN asked Smith why she should be considered for the Wooden Award this season.
“I just feel like I’m different,” Smith said. “I bring so much to the table. I can score from two or three different levels. I’m not just scoring on the block. I rebound every single night. I’m helping the team. I feel like I’m a great leader on the floor. I feel like if you just watch me play, you’ll see why I’m different.”
Smith averaged a double-double this season, scoring 22.5 points and grabbing 11.5 rebounds. She has 23 double-doubles and has six games of at least 30 points this season.
The Bears failed to defend their Big 12 Tournament title last weekend, falling to Texas in the championship game. Smith injured her leg in the first half against Texas but returned and appears to be ready to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Smith was also the Heartland College Sports Big 12 women’s basketball player of the year for the 2021-22 season. She was also named Big 12 Player of the Year by the league’s coaches for the second straight season.
Smith is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick this season per several mock drafts, including ESPN. Her main competition is considered to be Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard. If she were to be the No. 1 overall pick, she would be the second straight Big 12 player to have that honor. Texas forward Charli Collier did the same thing last season and was the No. 1 overall pick of the draft, going to the Dallas Wings.
The WNBA Draft will be held on April 11. The Washington Mystics have the first pick.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.