Nicky Anosike is named NCAA Woman of the Year

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If you watched the NCAA women’s basketball championship in March, chances are the Lady Vol who wowed you wasn’t Candace Parker, but indomitable senior Nicky Anosike. If Parker was the head of the national championship-winning beast of a team, Nicky Anosike was the heart.

She was also a triple major at the University of Tennessee, graduating with honors with a degree in legal studies, political science and sociology. And when she wasn’t bleeding her heart out on the court, or mastering the subjects she hopes will one day make her a lawyer, she was working with community charities to hand out turkeys and toys to needy families.

CP3 can keep her ESPY; on Sunday, Anosike was named the NCAA’s Woman of the Year.

The finalists submitted personal statements for the NCAA judging committee. Here’s what Anosike had to say:

I was not the superstar. I did the unglamorous work that wins games and brings success in life. Some of our most effective leaders are not in the spotlight but lead by example through hard work and dedication. This assertion reflects who I am and what I hope to become.

Anoskie is only the second basketball player to win the Woman of the Year award. In 1995, UCONN’s Rebecca Lobo took home the trophy, and that’s not shabby company. Lobo changed the entire scope of women’s basketball. (So did Diana Taurasi, who should have probably won the award in 2004.)

Pat Summitt and Anosike’s mom accepted the award on her behalf, because Anosike is in Israel, playing during the WNBA off-season.

By taped interview, she told the audience: “This is probably the best award I’ve ever won, because it means I’m well-rounded. It’s a testament to my life and to my mom. She’s the reason I’m here.”

In fact, Anosike’s single mom worked several jobs to support her children while living in a Staten Island housing project. The only time the kids were allowed outside was to play basketball.

After UT, Anosike was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx. She played in all 34 games this season, and made the all-rookie team last month.

Reading about Anosike’s award this weekend made me realize it’s the most wonderful time of the year: Women’s college basketball season is once again upon us. Soon all the college football hullabaloo will be over. No more lead stories on ESPN about players holding up convenience stores or being arrested for drunk driving.

Under the watchful eyes of Pat Summitt, C. Vivian Stringer, Geno Auriemma, Tara VanDerveer and Sylvia Hatchell, a new generation is rising up. Perhaps among them will be another NCAA Woman of the Year, another reason to be proud of collegiate athletes, another reason to justify all of the orange face paint in my top desk drawer.

Who’s going to wow you this season? Any Women of the Year among this year’s class of kick butt collegiate basketball players?

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