The 2021-22 NCAA women’s basketball season is just around the corner, with most teams starting play on Nov. 9. On Tuesday, ahead of the first games, the annual Associated Press preseason All-America team was announced.
There were no real surprises on the team, which was highlighted by UConn guard Paige Bueckers, the reigning Naismith Player of the Year, and Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2022 WNBA Draft.
Bueckers, who is coming off arguably the greatest freshman season in NCAA history, was a unanimous selection to the team. She’s one of the favorites to win Naismith Player of the Year again, and will be looking to lead UConn back to the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
Another rising sophomore honored by the AP is Caitlin Clark. A prolific scorer, the Hawkeyes guard led the country with 26.6 points per game last season, and set a school record for a freshman in the process. With Clark leading the way, Iowa enters the season ranked No. 9 in the country.
Junior Aliyah Boston, South Carolina’s dominant interior presence who is the reigning back-to-back Lisa Leslie Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, helped the Gamecocks reach the Final Four last season, and will be hoping to do so again this season.
All three of those players are going to be WNBA players in the coming years, but they are not eligible for the 2022 WNBA Draft. The other two players on the preseason All-America team, however, are going to make the jump to the professional ranks after this season. And, they both have a chance to be lottery picks.
First and foremost is Howard, who is the reigning back-to-back SEC Player of the Year, and is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. She has great size for a guard, can score with ease at all three levels and makes an impact on the defensive end, which is why she has a chance to be a franchise-changing talent from Day One. Every lottery team will be crossing their fingers for a chance to draft Howard.
Also in the mix for the lottery is Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith. She helped Baylor win a national championship as a freshman, coming off the bench to give them a huge boost in the title game. Her star has only risen since then, and last season she was named Big 12 Player of the Year, and won the Wade Trophy as the best sophomore, junior or senior women’s player in the country. She’s an elite athlete and highly efficient finisher around the basket.
Here’s a look at the full AP preseason All-America team.