Johnson, Smith Candidates for Naismith Award
ATLANTA — LSU junior guard Temeka Johnson and senior center Aiysha Smith were named as pre-season candidates for the Naismith Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year award, it was announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Monday.
The Lady Tigers duo are two of 30 candidates for the annual award given to both the best men’s and woman’s player in the nation.
The woman’s award has been given each year since 1983. Last year UConn’s Sue Bird received the honor.
Johnson and Smith helped the Lady Tigers to an 18-12 record last season, which included reaching the SEC Tournament championship game and the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Johnson, a honorable mention All-America selection last season, averaged 11.1 points and team-best 7.5 assists per game, while Smith, a first-team All-SEC selection, led the team with 15.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
“It is well deserved to have both Temeka and Aiysha listed among the nation ‘s elite players. Both distinguished themselves last year with the season they had,” LSU head coach Sue Gunter said. “It also speaks well of the program to have two players on the list.”
LSU is one of three schools with two players listed, joining SEC foe Tennessee and Duke.
The Lady Tigers, ranked as high as third in preseason publications, open the 2002-03 season at Arizona on Nov. 22 and have their first exhibition game on Nov. 8 against the Basketball Travelers in the Pete Maravich assembly Center.