If there’s a theme to this 12 months’s N.C.A.A. girls’s basketball match, it’s that all the things is extensive open, leaving room for brand spanking new stars to emerge and for groups to create new recollections. Some of the best star energy in the sport this season got here from underclassmen, with sturdy performances by first-year gamers and sophomores including to their résumés, and there guarantees to be extra the place that got here from.
Caitlin Clark, Iowa
Clark leads the nation in scoring with 26.7 factors per sport. Her 195 assists are the most in the nation, and her 506 field-goal makes an attempt are third. She is so casually in the prime rankings of so many offensive classes that it’s straightforward to overlook she is a freshman. A possible assembly along with her UConn counterpart, Paige Bueckers, in the spherical of 16 is the definition of must-see TV.
Paige Bueckers, UConn
Bueckers, the Big East’s participant of the 12 months and freshman of the 12 months, has been one of the top stories this season. She averaged 19.7 factors and 4.three rebounds a sport, and performed all 45 minutes of an additional time sport towards South Carolina, hitting the game-winner. Her profession excessive, 32 factors, got here towards St. John’s in February.
Dana Evans, Louisville
The Atlantic Coast Conference participant of the 12 months for the second season in a row, Evans is 5 toes 6 inches however ranked 15th in the nation in factors with 520. A senior guard, she scored in double digits in all of her 23 video games this season, and 40 video games in a row over all, courting to final season. She averages 1.three steals a sport and has a 92.1 free-throw proportion.
Elissa Cunane, North Carolina State
Cunane was the A.C.C. match most dear participant, and helped information the Wolfpack to a No. 1 seed in San Antonio. A 6-foot-5 junior middle and North Carolina native, she led the group with 16.6 factors and eight.1 rebounds a sport.
NaLyssa Smith, Baylor
The Big 12 participant of the 12 months, Smith averaged 18.6 factors and 9.2 rebounds a sport, whereas rating second in the convention with a 53.three field-goal proportion. A junior energy ahead, she helped lead Baylor to a No. 2 seed in San Antonio after scoring 21 factors in a convention match semifinal win towards Texas. A San Antonio native, she shot at a 54.1 p.c clip this season and had six video games taking pictures at the least 75 p.c.
Aari McDonald, Arizona
The Pac-12 participant of the 12 months and a co-defensive participant of the 12 months, McDonald is certainly one of the finest two-way gamers in the nation. It was her second straight 12 months incomes the defensive participant honors. Her 19.Four factors a sport tied her for the highest common in the convention, and she or he has scored in double digits in all 85 video games with the Wildcats after transferring from Washington. She is 5 toes 6 inches, and her 5 rebounds a sport have been 23rd most in the convention. She additionally had 2.7 steals per sport, and her velocity makes her a weapon in transition.
Ashley Owusu, Maryland
Maryland is loaded with expertise, however its coronary heart and soul is Owusu. Her 373 discipline targets ranked as the 23rd most in the nation. A sophomore, she leads the Terps in scoring with 18.three factors per sport and assists at 5.eight per sport. She was a unanimous Big Ten choice, and her decision-making expertise have helped Maryland to a 1.69 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
So a lot has been stated about Boston, the Gamecocks’ generational star. Boston was fifth in the nation with 74 blocks and 14th with 11.7 rebounds per sport. A sophomore ahead, she once more led South Carolina to a Southeastern Conference title. At 6 toes 5 inches, she is a two-time SEC defensive participant of the 12 months and an unavoidable presence on the ground.
Haley Jones, Stanford
Stanford has been dominant, and Jones is a giant purpose. A 6-1 guard, she has the potential to take over video games, although her 13 factors and seven.7 rebounds a sport don’t soar off the statistical web page. She can shoot and work in the paint, and is the Cardinal’s coronary heart.
Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
A two-time SEC participant of the 12 months, Howard was 25th in the nation with 20.7 factors per sport and led the Wildcats with 7.three factors. She has scored in double figures in 70 of her 79 profession contests. A sophomore, she is in the similar dialog with the former South Carolina stars Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson, gamers who earned SEC participant of the 12 months honors twice earlier than changing into a senior. She is the solely Power 5 participant to common greater than 20 factors a sport.
Others to watch: Jenn Wirth, Gonzaga; Hannah Sjerven, South Dakota; Michaela Onyenwere, U.C.L.A.; Charli Collier, Texas.