Following an outstanding season that culminated in the program’s second national championship, Lady Bear star Brittney Griner became just the third women’s basketball player ever to sweep all four major national player of the year honors, claiming the 2011-12 Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award, Wade Trophy and AP Player of the Year.
Since 1961, when the AP awarded its first national player of the year award, only three schools have ever won both the Heisman and a basketball national player of the year award in the same academic year: 1996-97 Florida (Danny Wuerffel and Wade Trophy winner DeLisha Milton), 2008-09 Oklahoma (Sam Bradford and consensus POY Blake Griffin), and now 2011-12 Baylor with Robert Griffin III and Griner.
Griner’s head coach, Kim Mulkey, was named Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second straight season, then earned National Coach of the Year recognition from the WBCA, AP and the Naismith folks, and sophomore Odyssey Sims provided a nice balance for Griner as one of eight finalists for the Lieberman Award, given annually to the top point guard in women’s basketball. (The winner will be announced April 18.)
Senior Lindsay Palmer’s NCAA Elite 89 award is also worth singling out. The honor is given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships. Palmer, a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree with a 3.985 GPA majoring in sports management, also received the award in 2010 when the women reached the Final Four.
Other 2011-12 Lady Bears individual honors:
- Griner: USBWA Player of the Year, ESPN.com Player of the Year, WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year; first team AP All-America; Wooden, WBCA and USBWA all-American; Big 12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year; first team All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Defensive Team; most outstanding player/MVP at the Preseason WNIT, Big 12 Championships, Des Moines Regional and Final Four
- Sims: Finalist for the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award; second team AP All-America; WBCA, USBWA all-American; first team All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Defensive Team; all-tournament selection at Preseason WNIT, Big 12 Championships, Des Moines Regional and Final Four
- Ashley Field: First team Academic All-Big 12
- Kimetria Hayden: Honorable mention All-Big 12
- Makenzie Robertson: First team Academic All-Big 12
- Destiny Williams: WBCA all-American (honorable mention); second team All-Big 12; all-tournament selection at Big 12 Championshops and Des Moines Regional
Sic ’em, Lady Bears!
[The billboard pictured above, plus similar designs featuring Mulkey and Sims, went up in Dallas, Houston and Waco immediately following the Lady Bears' national championship victory last week, and will go up in Austin soon.]