Westmont’s Canitez joins Baylor’s Griner as Player of Year

Tugce Canitez

Westmont's Tugce Canitez

DENVER – Brittney Griner of Baylor University is the winner of the 2012 State Farm® Wade Trophy, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced tonight during the second annual WBCA Awards Show. The prestigious award, regarded as “The Heisman of Women’s Basketball,” is presented annually to the NCAA Division I Player of the Year by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

The WBCA also announced the State Farm/WBCA Players of the Year in other collegiate divisions. Kari Daugherty of Ashland University was named NCAA Division II player of the year, Caroline Stedman of Amherst College was named NCAA Division III player of the year, Tugce Canitez of Westmont College was named NAIA player of the year, and Sha’Kayla Caples of Trinity Valley Community College was named the junior/community college player of the year.

A native of Izmir, Turkey Canitez averaged a double-double of 19.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and helped lead the Warriors to their first appearance in the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship quarterfinals.

“I was excited to get this award,” said Canitez. “It was cool to be with the other successful players. I feel like I cannot do this without my teammates and my coaches. I am glad I went to Westmont.”

“Tugce is very deserving to be honored on this stage and at the national level,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “She has worked hard not only this year at Westmont but her whole life to make herself the player that she is today.

“It is great for her to be honored individually while at the same time representing Westmont, her teammates and the success that we had this year.”

Canitez and the Warriors’ success included winning the Golden State Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championship for the first time in program history. In so doing, Westmont (31-4) earned a number four national ranking and a number one seed in the NAIA National Tournament.

Griner, a 6-foot-8 post, has led Baylor to its second NCAA Women’s Final Four® in three seasons and a perfect 39-0 mark. She is averaging 23.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game while shooting 60.7 percent from the floor and 80.3 percent from the free throw line.

“It has truly been a pleasure watching Brittney compete on the basketball court this season,” said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. “Brittney is the best of the best and earned this honor by showcasing the highest level of play in the game during the 2011-12 season. I am honored to present the State Fame Wade Trophy to her on behalf of the WBCA and the NAGWS. Congratulations Brittney.”

Griner has twice been named an All-American by the WBCA, AP, USBWA and Wooden Award and is a two-time WBCA Defensive Player of the Year. She was named most outstanding player of the Des Moines Regional and the Big 12 Championship, Big 12 Player of the Year, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and is a finalist for every major postseason award.

”State Farm is proud of the achievement of these amazing women,” said Pam El, marketing vice president for State Farm. “We are happy to support this outstanding program that celebrates their hard work and dedication.”

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 35th year, is named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade. The award debuted in 1978 as the first-ever women’s national player of the year award in college basketball.

The first recipient of the Wade Trophy was Carol Blazejowski of Montclair State in 1978. Other Wade Trophy/NCAA Division I Player of the Year recipients include many standouts such as Teresa Weatherspoon (1988), DeLisha Milton-Jones (1997), Candace Parker (2007), Ticha Penicheiro (1998), Sue Bird (2002) and Diana Taurasi (2003).

The WBCA and the NAGWS first partnered in June 2000 and for the past ten years have worked together to present The State Farm Wade Trophy player of the year award. A committee composed of coaches, administrators and media from across the United States selects the winner.

Other State Farm/WBCA collegiate players of the year:

Kari Daugherty, Ashland University, NCAA Division II
Daugherty, a 6-foot-1 forward/guard from Fresno, Ohio, ranked atop the nation’s Division II leader board in rebounds per game (14.1) and double-doubles (27 in 35 contests) and among the nation’s top 10 in points per game (No. 7 with 21.3). After nearly breaking a national record with a 22-rebound performance in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, Daugherty led her Ashland Eagles to a runner-up finish in the Division II National Championship game March 23.

Caroline Stedman, Amherst College, NCAA Division III
Stedman, a 5-foot-10 senior guard from Walpole, Mass., was the leading scorer (14.1 points) for No. 4 Amherst (31-2), which reached the NCAA Division III Women’s Final Four for the fourth consecutive year. Stedman’s class is only the second group of seniors in NCAA Division III history to earn a berth in the Women’s Final Four in all four years of their collegiate careers.

Tugce Canitez, Westmont College, NAIA
Canitez, a 6-foot-2 junior forward from Izmir, Turkey, tallied 19.1 points and pulled down 10.5 rebounds per game while leading the Westmont Warriors to a 31-4 record, Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament title and a No. 1 seed in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Sha’Kayla Caples, Trinity Valley Community College, Junior/Community College
Caples, a 5-foot-11 sophomore forward for undefeated Trinity Valley (36-0). The NJCAA Division I National Champions looked to Caples throughout 2011-12 as she poured in team-leading numbers for much of the season.

The State Farm/WBCA Players of the Year are selected by committees composed of WBCA-member coaches within the respective membership divisions.