Southeastern Conference coaches expect Kentucky senior guard Rhyne Howard to win her third consecutive SEC Player of the Year title in 2021-22.
After taking home the prestigious award each of the last two seasons, league coaches tabbed Howard their preseason SEC Player of the Year on Tuesday for a second consecutive year. Coaches also named her first-team All-SEC and picked Kentucky to finish fifth in the team standings.
The media named Howard their SEC Preseason Player of the Year last week, while Lindy’s Sports and The Athletic also named her a preseason All-American.
As a junior at Kentucky, Howard earned first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, United States Basketball Writers Association and Wooden Award. She was one of four finalists for the WBCA Wade Trophy, one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, one of four finalists for the 2021 Naismith Trophy and a finalist for the 2021 Cheryl Miller Award.
Howard was the only player in the nation to average over 20 points per game (20.7) with at least 7.3 rebounds per game, 90 assists and 60 steals. She knocked down a team-high 56 3-pointers to go with 91 assists, 61 steals and 19 blocks.
The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, played 24 games last season with nearly half of those coming against top-25 ranked opponents. In those games, Howard showed she is the best player in the country with impressive numbers. In 11 games against ranked opponents, Howard averaged 22.3 points per game, hitting 47.1 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3 with 6.7 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. Howard had four 30+ scoring games during the season with three coming against top-25 ranked teams.
One of her best performances of the year was when she scored 33 points at No. 12 Mississippi State, hitting four 3s with 10 rebounds and six assists. She scored 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Bulldogs, scoring 25 of UK’s last 31 points, including 10 of 14 in overtime. Other impressive performances on the biggest stage include 32 points with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals against No. 5 South Carolina and 24 points with four 3s, 10 rebounds and four assists against No. 10 Arkansas. She also posted 22 points against No. 13 Indiana and at No. 8 Texas A&M. Howard took over for Kentucky at No. 17 Georgia with 27 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists and went 4-of-4 from 3 and then followed with a 33-point performance against the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament.
Howard’s career is already one of the best in program history. In 83 career games, Howard has hit at least one 3 in 73 games, posted 10 or more points in 74 career games, 15+ in 59 games, 20+ in 44 games, 25+ in 26 games and 30+ in seven games. The guard has led UK in scoring in 54 career games, in rebounding in 44 career games, in assists in 29 career games, in steals in 30 games and blocks in 31 career games. She has 17 career double-doubles.
For her career, Howard has scored 1,655 career points sitting seventh in UK history in points scored. She needs 37 more to tie Maci Morris for sixth. Howard is the second player in school history to reach 1,500 career points prior to their senior season with the other being All-American and UK all-time leading scorer Valerie Still. Howard ranks second in school history in career scoring average at 19.9, while she is third in career 3s made with 214 and third in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 38.1. She is also eighth in UK history in steals per game at 2.301.