Junior Kalani Brown is one of five finalists for the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced Friday afternoon.
Named after the three-time All-American, 1994 National Player of the Year and a 2015 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the annual award in its inaugural year recognizes the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.
Brown is the lone representative from the Big 12 Conference on the list, which also includes Teaira McCowan (Mississippi St.), A’ja Wilson (South Carolina), Mercedes Russell (Tennessee), and Monique Billings (UCLA).
Brown, who was named 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year and unanimously selected to the All-Big 12 first team for the second consecutive season, leads the conference and ranks fourth nationally in field goal percentage (.654). She averages a double-double, netting an average of 19.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest in 28.9 minutes per game.
The Slidell, La. native has compiled 14 double-doubles, two 30-point performances, 15 20-point efforts, two 20-rebound contests and 14 double digit rebounding performances. Brown’s career-high, 23-board performance at No. 21/22 Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 and ranks 10th nationally this season.
Brown is also being considered for the Naismith Trophy, John R. Wooden Award and Wade Trophy national player of the year awards
A national committee of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers narrowed the original award watch list of 20 players to 10 candidates and now just five finalists. This month, the five finalists will be presented to Ms. Leslie and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2018 Lisa Leslie Center of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit www.HoophallAwards.com to cast their votes March 2-23.
“Through hard work and perseverance, the game of basketball has afforded me many opportunities over the years,” said Lisa Leslie. “The young women selected as finalists for this award have shown remarkable dedication to the game and honing their craft. I applaud them all and I look forward to recognizing our winner at the Final Four.”
The winner of the 2018 Lisa Leslie Center Award will be announced during ESPN2’s telecast of the national semifinal games in the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, March 30. The award will then be presented to the student-athlete on Saturday, March 31 at a new awards reception presented by the Basketball Hall of Fame and the WBCA and held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Each award will be presented by its respective Hall of Famer making this brunch a star-studded event.
Additional awards being presented include the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award and the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award, as well as the Wade Trophy, the sport’s oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award which is presented annually by the WBCA’s community of coaches to the best player in college women’s basketball.