Breanna Stewart, who had a slow start last season before developing into UConn's go-to player in the Huskies' national title has been selected as the preseason Player of the Year for the new American Athletic Conference (AAC) it was announced on Tuesday. Joining Stewie on the AAC preseason All-Conference team are teammates Stephanie Dolson and Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis. Senior guard Bria Hartley was named to the AAC Honorable Mention team. The accolades were announced at the AAC Media Day held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.
Dolson and Stewart, along with Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel, were unanimous selections according to a vote by the conference's coaches.
Stewie's selection marks the 17th time a Husky has been selected as the preseason conference Player of the Year. She is the ninth UConn player so honored. After averaging 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in her freshman season, Stewart took off during the postseason and was honored as the Bridgeport Regional Most Outstanding Player. In addition, Stewie was just the fourth freshman ever to be selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after averaging 20.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds and shooting 56.3 percent from the floor—including 60.0 percent from beyond the three-point arc—in five NCAA Tournament games.
Prior to this season, the Huskies were members of the Big East Conference. A dramatic shakedown, in which seven small Catholic schools (Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, DePaul and Seton Hall) remained the The Big East along with Creighton, Butler, and Xavier, transformed the conference into a basketball-centric (non-football) league which, in fact, is what the Big East was formed as. Meanwhile, the former Big East football schools (Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, South Florida, and Temple) all broke away to form the new AAC. They were joined by Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, and SMU. Louisville and Rutgers will be AAC members for just one season, however. Rutgers is destined for the Big 10 next year, while Louisville will join former Big East members Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame in the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
Dolson, a 2012-13 WBCA/State Farm All-America selection, enters her senior year with 1,299 career points and is fourth on UConn's all-time field goal percentage list at 59.8 percent. A 2013 First Team All-Big East selection, Dolson has been selected to the All-Big East Tournament team in each of her three years in Storrs, and was an NCAA Tournament All-Region Team pick in each of the last two seasons.
A 2011-12 WBCA/State Farm All-America selection, Hartley was an All-NCAA Tournament Team selection in 2013 after averaging 9.2 points per game. Mosqueda-Lewis was just the fifth player in UConn women's basketball history to be named to the WBCA/State Farm All-American team as a sophomore after she set a new school record with 118 three-point field goals.
Not surprisingly, the Huskies were a unanimous choice to win the AAC in the conference's inaugural season. UConn returns three starters and seven of its top-eight scorers from last year's national championship squad. Connecticut finished 35-4 in 2012-13 to post its eighth-straight 30-win season. The Huskies enter the 2013-14 season having appeared in a record six-straight Final Fours and UConn has advanced to at least the Final Four 11 times since 2000.