Baylor University Press Release
By: Kyle Robarts
WACO, Texas – The Naismith Hall of Fame, in association with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, named Baylor junior power forward NaLyssa Smith the winner of the Katrina McClain Award, Sunday, as a part of the Hoophall Starting Five Awards.
Smith was named the nation’s top power forward after leading the 28-3 Baylor Lady Bears to Big 12 Championships in the regular season and tournament while helping Baylor to its 10th NCAA Elite 8 appearance.
Smith beat out four other finalists for the honor, including Jasmine Walker of Alabama, Naz Hillmon of Michigan, Natasha Mack of Oklahoma State and Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist.
“I’m extremely honored to be receiving such a prestigious award like The Katrina McClain Award. I am very grateful for the recognition I have received for my play in women’s college basketball,” said Smith. “I have faced several challenges along the way, but each one of them has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today. Receiving this award would not have been possible without the inspiration from God, my family, my coaches and my teammates.
“I would sincerely like to thank the selection committee and Katrina McClain for recognizing me for all the hard work and dedication that I put into women’s college basketball,” she said. “I also promise to only get better at my craft so that I can provide a path and vision for the future up and coming Katrina McClain Award winners.”
McClain played on three USA Olympic teams, winning two gold medals, and she was a two-time NCAA National Player of the Year for the University of Georgia. She was known as a prolific rebounder and scorer throughout her career.
Smith has already been selected as the WBCA’s Wade Trophy Award winner for nation’s top player, she was named a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press and ESPN.com, and she earned second-team honors from the USBWA.
She was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Championship and was an NCAA Riverwalk Region All-Tournament selection after Baylor’s exit in the Elite 8.
Smith averaged 18.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the charity stripe. She added 38 steals on defense to go with 26 blocks for the 28-3 Lady Bears.
She is also in the running for another national player of the year award with the John R. Wooden Award winner yet to be named.
The McClain Award is in its fourth season with past winners including Ruthy Hebard of Oregon, a two-time winner, and UConn’s Napheesa Collier.