Southeastern Conference media have tabbed University of Kentucky women’s basketball junior guard Rhyne Howard as the SEC Preseason Player of the Year and projected the Wildcats to finish third in the league standings.
Earlier this week, league coaches also named Howard the SEC Preseason Player of the Year and picked UK to finish second in the conference standings.
Last season, Howard was named the 2020 SEC Player of the Year, and to the All-SEC First Team and SEC All-Defensive Team after her impressive sophomore season. The guard was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team and helped lead the Wildcats to the semifinals of the 2020 SEC Tournament.
These honors are part of a lengthy list of preseason praise in the last month for Howard, who has headlined the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List, 2021 WBCA Wade Trophy Watch List and 2021 Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List. Last week, Howard became the first Kentucky women's basketball player to be named a first-team preseason All-American by the AP. She has also been named a Preseason All-American by Lindy's Sports.
Howard is the leading returner after a sensational sophomore season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats and ranking second nationally with 23.4 points per game. The guard also led UK with 6.5 rebounds per game and 62 steals, while she was second on the team with 29 blocks and third on the team with 68 assists. Howard hit 84 3-pointers this season, which was the most in program history in a single season, topping the previous record of 81 set by Sara Potts in 2004-05. Her 3.1 3-pointers per game ranked top-10 nationally while her 633 total points ranked fifth nationally. Howard's 23.4 scoring average was the most for a UK player under Matthew Mitchell and the fourth-best average in program history.
Howard placed her name all over the Kentucky record books in 2019-20 as the only player in program history to score 25 or more points in five straight games while she was the second player to score 20 or more points in eight straight games. Howard had two stretches during the season of 20 or more points in eight straight games, including each of her last eight games played after missing three games with a finger injury.
Two of the top-12 scoring performances in program history came last season by Howard. The first was her 37 points in UK's win vs. Tennessee followed by a school-record tying 43 points at Alabama. She is the only player in program history to score 37+ points in consecutive games and the first to hit seven or more 3-pointers in consecutive games. On top of earning six double-doubles last season, Howard became the second fastest UK player ever to reach 1,000 career points and ended the season with 1,158 career points which ranks 27th on UK's all-time scoring list.
For more information on the Kentucky women's basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
SEC Preseason Media Poll
Order of Finish
1. South Carolina
2. Mississippi State
4. Texas A&M
14. Ole Miss
Player of the Year
Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
Unique Thompson, Auburn
Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
Rickea Jackson, Mississippi State
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
Rennia Davis, Tennessee
N’dea Jones, Texas A&M