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Aari McDonald named to USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award watch list for nation’s best player

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Women’s Monmouth at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Watch list season isn’t over yet, and Arizona’s Aari McDonald isn’t finished being recognized. The Wildcats’ star guard was named to the watch list for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Ann Meyers Drysdale Award on Thursday.

McDonald was one of 35 players from around the nation and eight from the Pac-12 to be nominated. The award—one of two postseason honors named for the great Ann Meyers Drysdale—is given to the best player in women’s college basketball.

McDonald was the nation’s leading returning scorer when the season kicked off. With a deeper team this season, she isn’t carrying as much of the scoring load for Arizona as she did last season, but her numbers are still impressive.

Through eight games last season, McDonald was playing an average of 32.1 minutes and scoring 26.8 points per game. This year, her minutes have dropped to 26.8 per game, but she’s still averaging 21 ppg. That places her at No. 11 in the country and first in the Pac-12 in scoring.

The 5-foot-6 guard has kept her numbers up by being more efficient. At this point in 2018, she was shooting 47.3 percent from the field. After her eighth game in 2019, she has upped that to 57.4 percent. That places her fourth in the Pac-12 and second among guards, just 0.5 percent behind Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec.

McDonald is also having another strong season at the charity stripe. Her 36 made free throws lead the Pac-12.

She’s not just important on the offensive end of the court, either. McDonald is averaging 2.4 steals per game placing her third in the Pac-12.

The other Pac-12 players named to the list are Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally of Oregon, Mikayla Pivec and Destiny Slocum of Oregon State, UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere, and Kiana Williams of Stanford.

The winner will be announced at the 2020 NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans, and honored at the annual USBWA Awards Luncheon at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on Monday, Apr. 13, 2020. Last year the award was won by Iowa’s Megan Gustafson.