MEDIA DAY CENTRAL
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - For the second-straight year, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins was selected as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by league head coaches, while Connecticut freshman Breanna Stewart was chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Diggins, the 2012 BIG EAST Player of the Year, was also a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Diggins helped lead her team to 15 league wins last season as the Irish won their first outright BIG EAST regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the 2012 BIG EAST Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters. She averaged 17.8 points per game in conference play.
Stewart was also honored as the national player of the Year by Gatorade, USA Today, Parade Magazine, McDonald's (Morgan Wootten Player of the Year Award), the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and the Naismith Trophy following the 2011-12 season. She was named to the 2012 USA Basketball U18 National Team. Stewart was the youngest member of the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team, becoming just the second high school player to compete for Team USA in the Pan Am Games.
Three Connecticut players were chosen to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team: juniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
Dolson was selected to the 2011-12 NCAA All-Kingston Regional Team last March and was a 2011-12 BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection after leading the Huskies in rebounding last season, pulling down six grabs per game. She also led the squad in blocks with 57. Dolson tallied 20 double-figure performances, including four 20-plus games.
Hartley, a unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection, was named to the prestigious 2011-12 WBCA/State Farm All-America Team. She completed the 2011-12 season second on the team in assists with 3.7 per game, third in scoring with 14 points per game and third in steals with 70. Shooting 46.5 percent from the field, Hartley tallied 28 double-figure performances and five 20-plus scoring games on the season.
Tabbed as the 2011-12 BIG EAST Freshman and Sixth Man of the Year, Mosqueda-Lewis had a standout freshman campaign when she led the Huskies in scoring with 15 points per game. She was only the second UConn freshman to be honored as the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player and was chosen to the 2011-12 All- BIG EAST Second Team and All-Freshman Team. She is third in UConn's single-season records with 93 3-point field goals and is second to Maya Moore for most points by a Husky freshman as she tallied a team-high 569 in 2011-12. Mosqueda-Lewis, a member of the 2011-12 BIG EAST All-Tournament Team, was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week eight times.
DePaul’s Anna Martin, an unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST Team selection, was named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American and a regional finalist for the State/Farm WBCA All-American team. She was added to the Midseason Wade Watch List as well as the Naismith Midseason Player of the Year Watch List. She was an unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selection after earning BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll Honors in eight of the league's 15 honor rolls. Martin led the BIG EAST in scoring with 19.1 points per game, which ranked 25th nationally.
Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers was another unanimous selection. Rodgers was invited to the Team USA World University Games Trials and earned Honorable Mention All-America by State Farm Coaches Association and the Associated Press. Last year, she earned a spot on the Preseason "Wade Watch" List and was a Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team unanimous selection. She started in all 35 games and led Georgetown in scoring with 18.7 ppg, which also ranked her second in the conference. She also led Georgetown with 2.7 3-pointers per game and ranked second in assists with 2.4 apg and second in rebounding (4.9).
Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel also an unanimous All-BIG EAST Preseason selection. One of 25 players named to the preseason “Wade Watch” list, Schimmel earned first team WBCA Region I honors last season after leading the Cardinals with 14.3 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. She also ranked third on the team in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game. Schimmel was named a first team All-BIG EAST selection and finished league play ranked 11th in scoring, sixth in assists, and fourth in steals.
Monique Oliver a senior forward/center from Rutgers, earned a spot on the preseason team after being an Honorable Mention All-BIG EAST selection last year. She saw action in all 32 games of 2011-12, making a team-best 31 starts. Oliver averaged career highs in scoring (11.8) and rebounding (7.3) last year and was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll a team-best three times.
Two senior guards from St. John’s were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith.
McKenith was an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection last year and, for the third time, was named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List. She ranks fifth all-time at St. John’s with 432 assists and sixth all-time in steals with 213. McKenith’s 12.1 points per game average was second on the team last year and she led the team in steals (70) and assists (149).
Smith was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection last year. She was also named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team. It is the third-straight season that Smith earns a spot on the BIG EAST Preseason all-conference squad. She ranks eighth all-time in blocks (90) and 13th in scoring with 1,236 career points. Last season, Smith led the Red Storm with 12.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds and 40 blocks.
Kayla Alexander rounds out the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Alexander earns the honor after being named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team and Preseason All-BIG EAST Team last season. She was chosen for a spot on WNIT All-Tournament Team last year and earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll three times. She started all 37 games and finished 19th in the nation and first in the BIG EAST with 2.6 blocked shots per game. Alexander was second on the team and 10th in the conference with 14.8 points per game and ninth in the conference with 7.5 rebounds per game.
Louisville’s Monique Reid and Laura Sweeney of Villanova were named Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention.
Preseason Player of the Year
Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame, Sr., G
Preseason Freshman of the Year
*Breanna Stewart, Connecticut, Fr., F
Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut, Jr., C
*Bria Hartley, Connecticut, Jr., G
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut, So., F
*Anna Martin, DePaul, Sr., G
*Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown, Sr., G
*Shoni Schimmel, Louisville, Jr., G
*Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame, Sr., G
Monique Oliver, Rutgers, Sr., F/C
Nadirah McKenith, St. John’s, Sr., G
Shenneika Smith, St. John’s, Sr., G
Kayla Alexander, Syracuse, Sr., C
Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Monique Reid, Louisville, Sr., F
Laura Sweeney, Villanova, Sr., F