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March Madness: Aliyah Boston, Kaitlin Clark and the National Player of the Year debate

National Player of the Year contenders are judged on their entire body of work from the first tip of the season, but it’s the NCAA Tournament that creates superstars and can often provide the final sway for a voter.

The 2022-23 race is again largely viewed as a two-player playoff between two different styles of players in Iowa guard Kaitlin Clark and South Carolina center Aliyah Boston. Villanova’s Maddie Siegrist is also a highly viewed contender with Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes in talks and Angel Reese still in some chatter.

Yahoo Sports ran the numbers for Boston, Clark and Siegrist from basics to advanced to ultimate value. Memorable moments and production matter too, so including the highlights of their seasons. All stats from his hoop stats.


Aliyah Boston (South Carolina, 6-5, Sr., F)

average: 13.3 ppg (333rd, 90th percentile), 9.7 rpg (37th), 1.8 apg (991st, 71st%), 0.5 spg (29th), 2.0 bpg (30th). Shoots 56.8% (97th percentile) at 25.8 mpg (64th percentile)

Yoga: 426 points (313rd, 95th%), 310 rebounds (18th), 57 assists (84th), 15 steals (54th), 64 blocks (17th)

Advanced (All Percentiles): 21.2% Usage (66th), 1.11 PPP (99th), 57.1 EFG% (94th), 19.1 TRB% (98th), 10.2 TOV% (97th), 6.9 Black% (97th)

Value (Rank): 7 Win Share (6th), 4.4 WS (28th), 2.6 def WS (9th)

South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston is again a leading candidate for National Player of the Year. (Kevin Langley / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Notable Moments: Boston had its best statistical game in South Carolina’s biggest and most important victory. He scored 26 points with 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks against UConn in February. He has scored more than 20 points four times and has 20 double-doubles, tied for sixth in Division I. He was a perfect 8-of-8 against Vanderbilt and has six games shooting 80% or better, including 7-of-8 against Maryland. ,

NPOY Case: Boston’s raw numbers are down from his Naismith Award season as a junior. He averaged three fewer points (20% of his previous average), three fewer rebounds (22%) and half as many steals, falling from the 78th percentile to the 29th percentile this season. He’s seen jumps in points played, effective field-goal percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.46, 89th percentile).

Those drops are largely due to the help around him as the defense focuses on the 6-foot-5 senior center. Senior guard Gia Cook and SEC Sixth Player of the Year Kamila Cardoso are huge assets to this undefeated South Carolina team and they pressured Boston to score.

Boston is the best player on the best team in the nation and has the footwork, consistency, and defensive ability to win another National Player of the Year award.

Caitlin Clark (Iowa, 6-0, Jr., G)

average: 27 ppg (3rd), 7.5 rpg (167th, 95th percentile), 8.3 apg (1st), 1.4 spg (439th, 87th percentile), 0.6 bpg (594th, 83rd percentile), 34 mpg (95th percentile)

Yoga: 864 points (2nd), 239 rebounds (101st, 17th among guards), 267 assists (1st), 46 steals (94th%), 19 blocks (91st%)

Advanced (percentage, unless noted): 35.7% Usage (10th Rank), 1.04 PPP (97th), 56.1 EFG% (93rd), 47.5 AST% (1st Rank)

worth: 8.8 Win Share (3rd), 7.4 Off WS (2nd), 1.5 Def WS (292nd)

Notable Moments: Clark has four triple-doubles this season, underscoring how important she is to every aspect of the Hawkeyes, and has 10 overall, ranking her second all-time in Division I women’s basketball behind Sabrina Ionescu. His most recent performance was a 30-point, 17-assist, 10-rebound showcase in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State, the 3-seed in the tournament. This came a week after his off-center, buzzer-beating three against Indiana, seeded first in the NCAA tournament and No. 2 overall. Four of his best games have come against some of the best in NC State (45 points), Maryland (42p/7r/8a) and Indiana twice (35p/10a and 34p/9r/9a).

NPOY Case: Clarke is one of the most electric scorers and most dynamic passers in the game, joining the likes of Ionescu as a dazzling guard to break through the social media clutter. He increased his field goal, 3-point field goal and effective field goal clip heading into his freshman year.

He averaged 3.4 made 3s a game, ranking first, and 8.9 attempted 3s, ranking second. His 108 3s and 285 attempts rank first and his range is basically the entire half-court. He is one of the best at the free-throw line, ranking third with 202 makes and 243 attempts (83.1% is the top-third in the country).

Clark’s turnover numbers are the worst in DI (ranking 0th percentile), but are offset by so many assists that his assist-to-turnover ratio ranks in the 98th percentile (2.17). He is also in the 93rd percentile in defensive rebound rate (20.8%), though his defense is lacking overall.

A finalist last season, Clarke appears to be the favorite of most media outlets to break through and hoist the POY trophy this time around. Beyond the gaudy offensive numbers, his most useful point on the “Pro” list is that Iowa (26-6) would be in serious trouble without him. She not only provides most of the offense through scoring, but largely finds teammates in transition and otherwise.

Maddie Siegrist (Villanova, 6-2, Sr., F)

average: 28.9 ppg (1st), 9.3 rpg (48th), 1.5 apg (64th percentile), 1.1 spg (72nd percentile), 1.2 bgp (133rd, 96th percentile). Shoots 51.8% at 35.2 mpg

Yoga: 984 points (1st), 317 rebounds (14th), 51 assists (80th percentile), 36 steals (88th percentile), 41 blocks (80th, 98th percentile)

advanced: 37.6% Usage (5th), 1.14 PPP (14th), 55.3 EFG% (91st), 5.4 TOV% (4th)

worth: 10.7 win share (1st), 8.6 from WS (1st), 2.1 def WS (37th)

Notable Moments: Siegrist scored a season-high 50 points on a season-high 76.9% shooting clip (20-of-26) against Seton Hall last month. He has never scored fewer than 21 points, which he did in the Big East Championship Game against UConn, as well as against Marquette and Marist.

NPOY Case: Siegrist, like Clarke, is incredibly important to Villanova and has the win numbers to show it. She shoots more 3’s than Boston and is a 37.3% shooter from there.

His case for National Player of the Year takes a hit when his games are ranked worst in scoring and efficiency. His worst shooting games, all of which were under 41%, were primarily against top talent at Iowa State, Baylor and DePaul. UConn held him to under 43% in all three games.

Angel Reese (LSU, 6-3, So., F)

average: 23.4 ppg (5th), 15.5 rpg (2nd), 2.2 apg (80th percentile), 1.7 spg (92nd percentile), 1.4 bpg (97th percentile); Shoots 54% overall at 33.3 mpg

Yoga: 701 points (5th), 464 rebounds (2nd), 65 assists (87th percentile), 50 steals (95th percentile), 42 blocks (71st)

advanced: Led by 29.4% utilization rate (96th%), 1.05 PPP (98th%), 54.1 EFG% (89th%), 24.1 TRB% (4th) 20.4 ORB% (4th)

worth: 9.6 Win Share (2nd), 6.7 from WS (3rd), 3.0 def WS (1st)

Notable Moments: Reese’s season highs were 36 points against Ole Miss, 28 rebounds against Texas A&M, and 86.7 FG% against Lamar. She broke Sylvia Fowles’ LSU-record consecutive double-double streak and scored 28 in 30 games.

NPOY Case: Reese, who leads the nation in free throws made and attempted (but shoots 70.8%), is a dominant and talented player whose case, unfortunately for him and LSU, is not like Clark, Boston or Siegrist. The Tigers played a non-conference schedule of teams near the bottom in the net rating, making its performance against the rare top team LSU crucial to its campaign.

His double-double streak was broken against South Carolina when he scored 16 points (fourth-worst of the season) on a season-low 33.3 FG% along with a season-low four rebounds. The two games against Tennessee were also among his lows.

Snapshot of National Awards

wooden prize

Named for John Wooden and honors his vision of the “total basketball player”. Recognizes the most outstanding player in women’s basketball since 2004 under certain candidate criteria. A blue-ribbon national advisory board selects approximately 15 finalists for POY and All-American team honors. Voting begins at the end of the season and includes tournament games from just after the Sweet 16 games.

Finalists: Aliyah Boston (South Carolina, Sr., F), Cameron Brink (Stanford, Jr., F), Caitlin Clark (Iowa, Jr., G), Aaliyah Edwards (UConn, Jr., F), Mackenzie Holmes (Indiana, Sr., F) , Ashley Jones (Iowa State, Sr., G/F), Haley Jones (Stanford, Sr., G), Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech, Sr., C), Ta’nia Latson (Florida State) , Fr., G), Olivia Miles (Notre Dame, So., G), Diamond Miller (Maryland, Sr., G), Anissa Morrow (DePaul, So., F), Alisa Pili (Utah, Jr., F), Maddie Siegrist (Villanova, Sr. , F), Hailey Van Lith (Louisville, Jr., G).

Naismith Prize

Named after Dr. James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball. Recognized the nation’s top female player since 1983 after voting by a national academy of leading basketball coaches, administrators and journalists. There are top-50 and top-30 watch lists that narrow down to 10 semifinalists and four finalists, which are then voted on by the group.

Semifinalists: Boston, Brink, Clark, Edwards, Holmes, Joannes, Kitley, Pili, Angel Reese (LSU, So., F), Siegrist.

The only player on Naismith’s 10-player list who is not on Wooden’s 15-player list is Reese. LSU confirmed that Reese is not eligible for the award because he does not meet all of the criteria. Head coach Kim Mulkey said it could be his GPA that didn’t meet the requirement. The Wood award requires a 2.0, while LSU has varying qualifications depending on the semester, starting at 1.8.

Yahoo Sports’ Player of the Year

Negley’s Choice: It is always difficult to compare different styles of players for the overall best player award. Comparing figures becomes difficult because they all have a scale of value and within each number there is context. Reese and even Boston are prime examples of this. Someone who hasn’t seen this season or hasn’t been paying attention might look at those numbers and think Reese is a better candidate while Boston is mediocre. Not so, and Boston is a solid contender for his job leading South Carolina to an undefeated record.

My vote goes to Clarke. He is an offensive threat no matter where he is on the court and he finds pockets of passing windows in only the best in the game. More importantly, Iowa would be lost without him. The rest of the five are off to good starts, but without Clark, I don’t doubt that Iowa will be more similar to 1-seed Illinois than 1-seed Illinois.

Johanna Huber’s pick: There’s no denying what Boston and South Carolina have done this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them hoisting the NCAA championship trophy in April. Clark’s importance to Iowa also cannot be overstated. Whenever she is on the court, she is also fun to watch. Both have proved why they are prime candidates for National Player of the Year.

However, my pick is Siegrist. What he has done to put Villanova on the map and lead it to the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament is immeasurable in statistics alone. She is Villanova’s all-time leading scorer for both women’s and men’s basketball. She is the nation’s leading scorer and had a 50-point outing against zero turnovers in February. Only a few stellar performances in the tournament can propel him to the top.



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