LOS ANGELES -- University of Delaware All-American Elena Delle Donne, who capped one of the finest seasons in the history of collegiate women’s basketball this past season, was honored Monday evening as one of three finalists for the Honda Cup Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Award.
The winner of the Honda Cup was softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts, who led her University of Oklahoma team to the national championship two weeks ago. Delle Donne, who was named the winner of the Honda Cup for women’s basketball back in April, and Louisiana State national track & field sprint champion Kimberlynn Duncan were the other two finalists.
The annual event was held at the University of Southern California’s Galen Center and was televised live nationally on ESPNU. Delle Donne, currently in her first season with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, was not able to attend due to team commitments. Delle Donne was on hand at last year’s ceremony when she was honored with the Honda Inspiration Award.
Other individual sport Honda Sports Award winners who were honored Monday were Allyson Fournier of Ashland (Division III), Kara Cannizzaro of North Carolina (lacrosse), Kari Daugherty of Tufts (Division II), Nicole Gibbs of Stanford (tennis), Annie Parks of USC (golf), Bridget Sloan of Florida (gymnastics), Allison Schmitt of Georgia (swimming & diving), Alaina Bergsma of Oregon (volleyball), Crystal Dunn of North Carolina (soccer), Katie Reinprecht of Princeton (field hockey), Betsy Saina of Iowa State (cross country), and women’s basketball player Andrea “Drey” Mingo of Purdue (Inspiration Award).
Honda has been a sponsor of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards for 27 years. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $2.5 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women's athletics programs at the institutions.
Delle Donne became just the fourth student-athlete in University of Delaware history to earn his or her sport’s national Player of the Year award and the first since 1999 when John Grant was named the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Player of the Year. Delaware’s Audie Kujala was named the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Softball Player of the Year in 1977 and Kevin Mench was selected as the Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Magazine in 1998.
"I am honored to be receiving this award,” said Delle Donne back in April. “I want to thank all of the people who had a part in selecting me as the recipient. It is truly humbling to be chosen as the premier player in women's college basketball this year. I feel blessed to be a part of the Collegiate Women's Sports Awards family. I am extremely grateful to be receiving an award that stands for excellence in sports and highlights women's accomplishments.”
Delle Donne, a native of Wilmington, Del. (Ursuline Academy), ranked second in the nation with 26.0 points per game and scored 30 or more points in eight games this past season. She helped lead the Blue Hens to a 32-4 overall record and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance for the first time in school history. A four-time All-American and three-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, she holds the CAA career records for points, field goals, free throws, and blocked shots, and her 3,039 career points placed her fifth all-time in NCAA history. She also owns 11 University of Delaware career records as well as numerous season and single game standards.
"We are all very proud of Elena on her selection as the Honda Award winner as the top women’s basketball player in the country,” said Delaware head coach Tina Martin, who led the Blue Hens to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year in 2013 and for the fourth time in her tenure. “This prestigious honor is something I know Elena will cherish for the rest of her life. The award culminates an incredible year for Elena and brings national attention to our women’s basketball program here at the University of Delaware.”
Delle Donne, who earned her degree in human services from UD this spring, was also a two-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for women’s basketball, a two-time CAA Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and the CAA overall Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2012. She is the CAA’s nominee for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which will be presented in October.