Former University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball standout Nicky Anosike (2004-08), a two-time NCAA Champion, was honored Monday night with the 2008 NCAA Woman of the Year Award in Indianapolis.
Anosike, who just completed her first season as a member of the WNBA All-Rookie team while playing for the Minnesota Lynx, was unfortunately unavailable to attend. She is spending the off-season playing basketball in Israel, and her Elizur Ramla team opened the season Tuesday versus Maccabi in Ashdod, Israel.
Anosike received the award — one of the most prestigious that the NCAA bestows — at the 18th annual NCAA Woman of the Year Awards Dinner at the Murat Centre Egyptian Room in Indianapolis. Accepting the award on her behalf was her mother, Ngozi Anosike, and her head coach at Tennessee, Pat Summitt.
“We are all so excited for Nicky,” Summitt said. “She is one of the hardest working student-athletes I have encountered in my 35 years of coaching.
“Nicky worked tirelessly in the classroom and wanted to be challenged every day. When one major wasn’t enough, she picked up another one. That stimulated her to tackle a third major, and while juggling life and being a student-athlete at Tennessee, she turned in a 3.74 GPA. Academically, she was truly amazing,” she said.
Her coach also saw Anosike transfer that quest for knowledge on the basketball court.
“I don’t think Nicky had any idea how much potential she had or how gifted she was as a basketball player when she came to Tennessee,” Summitt said. “For four years, Nicky worked on every aspect of her game to improve daily. Her tenacity and unfailing will to succeed helped us to win two NCAA titles.
“Nicky Anosike is a winner in life, and she embodies all of the traits of the NCAA Woman of the Year,” she said. “We are so honored and proud of her.”
The original list of 130 female student-athletes candidates for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award was narrowed down to a top three list for each division (I, II, III). A committee comprised of representatives from NCAA member schools and conferences selected the top 30 honorees, and then nine finalists were named, three from each division. The Committee on Women’s Athletics selected Anosike from the nine finalists. An hour-long broadcast of the event will air on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 5.
Anosike, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, is the third NCAA Woman of the Year from the University of Tennessee and joins Lauren McCalley, diver, 2005 and Catherine Byrne, swimmer, 1992 as recipients. In the 18-year history of the award, Anosike is just the second basketball player to earn the honor, joining 1995 honoree Rebecca Lobo of Connecticut. Anosike earned a 3.74 GPA as a triple major at UT, studying political science, criminal justice and legal studies.
The NCAA Woman of the Year Award was created to honor a senior female student-athlete who has distinguished herself throughout her collegiate career, excelling academically and athletically in addition to demonstrating strong community service and leadership.
To be eligible, the female student-athlete must have earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and competed during the 2007-08 academic year. In addition, each individual must have completed intercollegiate eligibility in her primary sport by the end of the 2008 spring season and must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5. The award has been given by the National Collegiate Athletic Association since 1992.