Kentucky's Rhyne Howard top overall pick in WNBA draft
Rhyne Howard, the most decorated player in Kentucky women's basketball history, added
another milestone Monday as she was selected first overall at the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream. Held at Spring Studios in New York, Howard made history at the draft, becoming the first Kentucky women's basketball player ever to be selected first overall.
The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, becomes the seventh player in program history to be selected in the WNBA Draft and the first since Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps were both selected in 2017. Akhator was previously the highest draft pick in school history at third overall. Howard, Akhator, A'dia Mathies and Victoria Dunlap are the only first-round picks in program history. Howard's accomplishment makes Kentucky only the 16th program to produce a No. 1 WNBA Draft selection and one of only five schools in the league to produce such a player.
Howard's fulfilled dream of being a No. 1 pick bookends a historic collegiate career. The guard became the only player in program history to receive multiple first-team All-America honors from multiple organizations along with being the only UK WBB player to earn four first-team All-SEC honors. This season alone, Howard earned first-team All-America honors from the Senior CLASS Award, Women's Basketball Coaches Association, The Associated Press, Wooden Award and United States Basketball Writers Association. Howard joined Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu, South Carolina's Wilson, Baylor's Brittney Griner, Tennessee's Holdsclaw, Duke's Alana Beard, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris and UConn's Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore as the only three-time first-team AP All-America honorees. Howard was also tabbed Wooden Award, AP and USBWA First-Team All-America in 2020 and 2021 after historic seasons for the Wildcats. She was WBCA First-Team All-America in 2021 and honorable
mention from the organization in 2020.
One of college basketball's best, Howard has been a finalist for nearly every major national player of the year award each of the last three seasons. Howard is currently still a finalist for the 2022 Honda Women's
Sports Award and was also in the running for the 2022 WBCA Wade Trophy, 2022 Cheryl Miller Award, 2022 Wooden Award and 2022 Dawn Staley Award.
She was one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy this season as well. Her junior season, she was a finalist for the Honda Women's Sports Award, WBCA Wade Trophy, Cheryl Miller Award, Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and Dawn Staley Award. As a sophomore, Howard was a finalist for the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, Cheryl Miller Award and Dawn Staley Award.
Howard's career is one of the best in program history. In 114 career games, Howard hit at least one 3 in 99 games, posted 10 or more points in 102 career games, 15+ in 85 games, 20+ in 61 games, 25+ in 33 games and 30+ 10 games. The guard led UK in scoring in 73 career games, in rebounding in 60 career games, in assists in 40 career games, in steals in 50 games and blocks in 45 career games. She had 27 career double-doubles and one triple-double. This season, Howard hit a 3 in 26 games, three-plus 3s in 10 games, five-plus 3s in five games, scored 10+ in 28 games, 15+ in 26 games, 20+ in 17 games, 25+ in seven games and three 30-point game. She led UK in scoring 19 times, rebounding 15 times, assists 11 times, steals 19 times, blocks 14 times and has 10 season double-doubles.
For her career, Howard scored 2,290 career points sitting second in UK history in points scored. Against Vanderbilt, Howard scored her 2,000 career points, becoming just the third Wildcat in school history – both men's and women's – to record 2,000 or more points in 100 games or less. She joined Hall of Famers Dan Issel and Valerie Still in that category.
Howard ranks second in school history in career scoring average at 20.1, while she is second in field-goals made with 790, first in career 3s made with 284 and fourth in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 38.2. She is also fourth in UK history in steals per game at 2.298.
On the single-season list at UK, Howard has the fifth and sixth-most points, the fourth, seventh and eighth best scoring averages, the seventh and eighth most field-goals made, and the first, fifth and
eighth most 3s made in a single season in program history. Her 43 points against Alabama in January of 2020 is the most points ever scored in a regulation game and tied the most ever in any game in program history.