University of Kentucky women’s basketball sophomore guard Rhyne Howard has been named a top-10 finalist for the 2020 Cheryl Miller Award. Named after the three-time Naismith Player of the Year and Class of 1995 Hall of Famer, the annual award is in its third year and recognizes the top small forwards in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.
“The players on this top-ten list are unquestionably some of the most gifted in basketball today and they should feel honored to be considered for the Cheryl Miller Award,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Ms. Miller has long been considered as one of the greats of our game, and we are grateful to have her insight as we move forward in this process.”
The selection committee for the Cheryl Miller Award is composed of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers. In March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. Miller and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. New to the award this season is fan voting presented by Dell Technologies. Starting Five Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies will go live Friday, Feb. 14 on hoophallawards.com.
The winner of the 2020 Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award will be presented at The College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s in Los Angeles, California on Friday, April 10 along with the other four members of the Women’s Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award, and the Lisa Leslie Center Award, in addition to the Men’s Starting Five. Previous winners of the Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Award include Bridget Carleton, Iowa State (2019) and Gabby Williams, Connecticut (2018).
Howard is on nearly every national player of the year watch list this season. Most recently, she was tabbed to the Citizen Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30, John R. Wooden Award Late-Season Top 20 and Dawn Staley Award Midseason Watch List establishing her as a top candidates for national player of the year.
The reigning unanimous national freshman of the year last season, Howard earned countless preseason honors and was named to the Citizen Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List, Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List, WBCA Preseason Wade Watch List, USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Watch List and was Preseason All-SEC First Team by both league coaches and league media. The native of Cleveland, Tennessee has been named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week three times this season and was espnW National Player of the Week in December.
Howard was leading the nation in total points with 441 and sat third in points per game at 23.2 before injuring her finger in the second half of Kentucky’s 68-61 win over Auburn in late January. She did return to the game with just under five minutes remaining and scored five points with a key steal and block to clinch the win but missed the following three games before returning Sunday vs. Arkansas. Against the Razorbacks, Howard, who was playing with a padded and wrapped left hand, scored 20 points.
The sophomore guard is having an incredible season for the Wildcats, who are 18-5 and currently ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25. Howard is averaging 23.1 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game, adding 62 3-pointers, 51 assists, 47 steals and 22 blocks. So far this season, Howard has placed her name all over the Kentucky record books as the only player in program history to score 25+ points in five straight games while she is the second player to score 20+ points in eight straight games. Part of that impressive stretch was 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.
Howard is nearing 1,000 career points and is on pace to become the second-fastest player in program history to join the 1,000 point club. Currently, Howard has 986 career points in 52 games needing 14 more to eclipse the 1,000 point mark. Even after missing three games, Howard ranks 12th nationally and first in the SEC in total points with 461, second nationally and first in the league in points per game and 10th nationally and second in the SEC in 3-point field-goals per game.