HCS Big 12 Women’s Basketball Award Winners for 2022-23 Season: Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, and More
The Big 12 women’s basketball season is complete. Now it’s time to hand out some awards for the 2022-23 season.
While the Big 12 coaches and the Big 12 media will have their say, here are the Heartland College Sports Big 12 women’s basketball superlatives for the season.
Player of the Year
Ashley Joens, G/F, Iowa State
It came down to Joens and Oklahoma forward Madi Williams. Both were the best players on their respective teams. Both are leaving among the top scorers in their programs. Both are probably going to find work professionally after the NCAA Tournament.
Joens ended up having the better overall season, but not by much. However, it was enough for me to give her the nod.
We’ve gotten used to this overall greatness from Joens. She’ll leave the Cyclones having wrapped up her fourth regular-season as a player that averaged at least 20 points in a season.
Freshman of the Year
Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, G, Baylor
The debate begins and ends with Littlepage-Buggs, who won the Big 12 Freshman of the Week so many times I lost track. An injury to Aijha Blackwell and the transfer issues with Dre’Una Edwards opened up playing time and she delivered, averaging a double-double in Big 12 play. She’s the future of this program. Well, she’s part of it. Head coach Nicki Collen has some talented youngsters that got valuable experience this season.
Newcomer of the Year
Naomie Alnatas, G, Oklahoma State
The Kansas City transfer followed her coach to Stillwater and helped turn the Cowgirls into an NCAA Tournament team in just one season. This team has plenty of great pieces, but Alnatas was the engine that made the Cowgirls go all season. She was also one of the best defenders in the conference. In the transfer portal era, this is the type of impact you hope for from an experienced first-year player at your program.
Defensive Player of the Year
Taiyanna Jackson, C, Kansas
Jackson was the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double for the season, and she actually built on her numbers from a season ago. But she is the most intimidating presence in the paint in the conference. She averaged three blocked shots per game, more than double the next player on the list. Now that she’s a complete player, she’ll challenge for Player of the Year next season.
Sixth Player of the Year
Skylar Vann, G, Oklahoma
On any other team in the Big 12 Vann would be a starter. But for Oklahoma, where the Sooners have the super-senior trio of Ana Llanusa, Taylor Robertson and Madi Williams, Vann comes off the bench for the third straight season. She was the official winner of this award last season, and she had another quality season. She rarely makes mistakes and after the trio move on, Vann may end up the team’s star.
Most Improved Player
Caitlin Bickle, F, Baylor
Bickle has always been talented but has always sat behind players like NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo throughout her career. This year, with a full-time starting job, her numbers went up year over year in every category. But the most impressive part of Bickle’s final season was the rare company she kept. She was one of the few players in Division I to be a 50-40-80 player — shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 80 percent from the free-throw line. All of those numbers were up from a year ago, and her 3-point percentage jumped more than 20 points.
Ana Llanusa, G, Oklahoma, Sr.
There really was no other choice here. She missed most of last season due to injury and returned this season to be Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer behind Williams. In some ways, she was the Sooners’ most important piece this season. Oklahoma couldn’t have won a share of the Big 12 regular-season title without her.
Coach of the Year
Jacie Hoyt, Oklahoma State
Hoyt inherited a team that won nine games last season. While a few players stayed from last year’s team, she turned over most of the roster with transfers and recruits. An NIT bid would have been progress for the Cowgirls. But early wins over Texas and Baylor were signs that the Cowgirls were ready for more. By the end of the regular season Hoyt had the Cowgirls firmly in the NCAA Tournament field and with 20 wins for the season. It was the best turnaround job in the league this season and validated OSU’s choice in hiring Hoyt in the first place.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.