The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) included Baylor women’s basketball junior Kalani Brown on the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award watch list. The inaugural award, named after three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year, recognizes the top centers in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.
Brown, one of 20 on the watch list, paced the Lady Bears in scoring (15.4 per game), rebounding (8.2 per game), shot blocking (2.0 per game) and double-doubles (11) last season. Her team high .679 field goal percentage led the Big 12 and shattered Baylor’s previous singles season field goal percentage record of .619. The Slidell, La., native was rewarded for her work on the court last year, securing WBCA All-American, Associated Press honorable mention, unanimous All-Big 12 first team and Big 12 All-Defensive team accolades.
Averaging just 21.4 minutes as a sophomore, Brown is expected to see increased playing time as a junior with a Baylor roster of 10. Based on a vote of league coaches, Brown was tabbed 2018 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year and named Preseason All-Big 12.
“Before Lisa Leslie became one of the most recognizable faces of the WNBA, she was a collegiate center unlike any other,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Her impact was immediate as the best freshman in the collegiate game and she continued to develop her skills becoming more impactful each season. Her work ethic and dedication are certainly admirable traits any young athlete should aspire to emulate.”
The Selection Committee for the Lisa Leslie Award is composed of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers. By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players for the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award will be narrowed to just 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. Leslie and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist at www.hoophallawards.com.
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. 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.
“I am honored to be a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and now the namesake of the Center of the Year Award,” said Lisa Leslie, a 2016 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “The women on this watch list are so deserving of this honor and I can’t wait to see how they will make an impact for their teams this season.”
For more information on the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award, visit www.hoophallawards.com.