Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell chosen as Player of the Year by coaches, while Iowa’s Megan Gustafson earns Player of the Year nod from media
ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference announced its 2017-18 women’s basketball all-conference teams and individual award recipients on Monday during BTN’s Women’s Sports Report.
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was chosen as Big Ten Player of the Year by the conference coaches, while Iowa’s Megan Gustafson earned the Big Ten Player of the Year award from a select panel of Big Ten media members. It’s the third time in four years Mitchell has been the coaches’ choice for Player of the Year, while Gustafson becomes the first Iowa student to earn that honor from either the coaches or media since 1998, when Tangela Smith was chosen by both groups.
Minnesota’s Destiny Pitts was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year by both the coaches and media, while Nebraska’s Amy Williams took home Coach of the Year accolades from her colleagues as well as the media. In addition, the Big Ten coaches selected Purdue’s Ae’Rianna Harris as Defensive Player of the Year and Maryland’s Ieshia Small as the Sixth Player of the Year.
Mitchell led Ohio State to its 16th Big Ten Championship and second in a row, ranking second in the Big Ten and third in the nation in scoring (24.4 ppg.), while leading the conference and ranking eighth nationally with 3.7 three-point field goals per game. A four-time Big Ten Player of the Week with a conference high-tying seven 30-point games this season, Mitchell holds the Big Ten records for career points (3,286 – also third in NCAA Division I history) and three-point field goals made (478 – also an NCAA all-division record), as well as the NCAA Division I record with her current streak of making a three-pointer in 87 consecutive games.
Mitchell is one of seven Buckeye students to earn Big Ten Women’s Basketball Player of the Year honors from either the coaches or media, and the third three-time recipient along with Jessica Davenport (2005-07) and Jantel Lavender (2008-11).
Gustafson helped Iowa to a tie for third place in the final Big Ten standings while earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors a record-setting nine times this season. She leads the nation in scoring (25.3 ppg.) and field-goal percentage (.667), while ranking second in double-doubles (26) and fifth in rebounding (12.8 rpg.). In addition, she tied Mitchell for the conference lead with seven 30-point games this year and has already set Iowa single-season school record for points (734) and rebounds (370).
Pitts contributed to a Minnesota squad that also tied for third place in the conference standings this season. A seven-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Pitts is averaging 13.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game with a .367 three-point field-goal percentage and 2.6 three-pointers made per game, ranking among the top 20 in the conference in all four categories. She is the fourth Golden Gopher chosen as Big Ten Freshman of the Year and first since Amanda Zahui B. in 2014.
Williams was selected as Big Ten Coach of the Year after guiding Nebraska to a 20-9 record and a third-place Big Ten finish at 11-5, as her squad has recorded 13 more wins overall (eight more during conference play) than a season ago. Williams’ selection is the third time a Husker coach has earned Big Ten Coach of the Year plaudits since Nebraska joined the conference in 2011-12, with Connie Yori the most recent Husker recipient in 2013 and 2014 (both by the coaches only).
Harris is the first Purdue student chosen as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honor since Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton in 2007. The Boilermaker sophomore is in a virtual tie for the Big Ten lead in blocked shots, ranking ninth nationally at 3.1 blocks per game. The Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Nov. 20, she also ranks sixth in the conference in rebounding (8.8 rpg.), while adding 12.4 points per game in helping Purdue to an 18-12 record and a 9-7 finish in Big Ten play.
Small is the second Maryland student in three seasons to earn the Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year trophy, following Brene Moseley’s selection in 2016. Small has played an important role in the Terrapins’ 23-6 season and Big Ten runner-up finish at 12-4, coming off the bench in all 29 games and averaging 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Mitchell and Gustafson joined Michigan Katelynn Flaherty as unanimous first-team selections by both the coaches and media. In addition, Indiana’s Tyra Buss was a unanimous first-team choice by the coaches and Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell was a unanimous first-team pick by the media. The conference’s All-Big Ten teams consist of 10 first-team honorees, 10 second-team selections and honorable mention choices.
The Big Ten also recognized 14 Sportsmanship Award recipients. The students chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. These students must also be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.