On Wednesday, senior guard Arella Guirantes of the Rutgers women's basketball team was “named the Preseason Big Ten Co-Player of the Year by the conference's coaches,” according to a press release by Rutgers Athletics. Guirantes is the first Scarlet Knight to earn the distinction since Cappie Pondexter did in 2005. She shares the Co-Player of the Year title with Michigan's Naz Hillmon.
Guirantes also earned a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team by the coaches and media, according to the press release. On the coaches’ team, Hillmon, Northwestern's Lindsey Pulliam and Ohio State's Dorka Juhász join Guirantes as unanimously selected players.
On the media's team, Guirantes is one of two players unanimously selected, with Pulliam being the other. Guirantes was also named to the Watch List of the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, presented to the country’s best shooting guard.
Three other Big Ten student-athletes find themselves on the Watch List.
Guirantes led the Big Ten with 20.6 points per game last season, good for ninth in the nation. Her 81 percent shooting from the charity stripe was third-best in the conference. Also, Guirantes led the conference in minutes played, averaging 37.1 minutes per game.
Another Rutgers student-athlete garnering national attention is someone who has yet to check into a game on the Banks. True freshman guard Diamond Johnson was named to the Watch List for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the best point guard in the country.
“Candidates exhibit the floor leadership, playmaking and ball-handling skills of Class of 1996 Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman,” according to a press release by Rutgers Athletics. New York Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu claimed the honor the past three seasons as a member of the Oregon Ducks.
Coming out of Neumann-Goretti, Johnson is ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the country by ESPN.
During her high school career, Johnson was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Girls Basketball Player of the Year twice. She also was the first woman selected to play in a men's national All-American game.
In addition, Johnson was one of 27 women named to the Jordan Brand Classic. The 24k Showcase at the 2020 Allen Iverson Roundball Classic was canceled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In 2019, Johnson brought the Saints to a 21-8 record and the opportunity to play in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 3A state tournament quarterfinals. While in her senior year of high school, Johnson’s per-game averages were 29.9 points, six rebounds and five steals.
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