Texas A&M junior guard Chennedy Carter was dashing toward a record-setting season before a nasty fall sidelined her for four and a half weeks. Carter returned to finish the season strong, earning second-team honors on the Associated Press women’s basketball All-American team Thursday.
“That’s how well respected she is, knowing that she did what she did, missing seven and a half games,” A&M coach Gary Blair said.
The 5-foot-7 Carter averaged 21.3 points per game to rank sixth in the country. She played in 23 games, starting 21 for the 22-8 18th-ranked Aggies. A&M was ranked 10th and had an eight-point lead at home against LSU on Jan. 9 late in the first half when Carter suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain. Carter returned on Feb. 13, averaging 20.6 points in the final seven games, but the Aggies didn’t finish strong, losing five of their last nine, including a three-game losing streak to end the season.
Carter is only the third A&M player to make one of the Associated Press’ first three teams. Post Danielle Adams earned first-team honors in 2011 and post Kelsey Bone was a third-team pick in 2013.
Oregon senior guard Sabrina Ionescu, a unanimous pick by the 31 voters, topped the first team which included Kentucky sophomore guard Rhyne Howard, Oregon senior forward Ruthy Hebard, Baylor senior forward Lauren Cox and Connecticut junior forward Megan Walker. Joining Carter on the second team were South Carolina freshman post Aliyah Boston, Oregon junior forward Satou Sabally, Arizona junior guard Aari McDonald and Louisville guard Dana Evans. Carter had the most first-place votes among the second-team picks with seven.
The third team consisted of South Carolina senior guard Tyasha Harris, UCLA junior forward Michaela Onyenwere, Iowa senior guard Kathleen Doyle, North Carolina State center Elissa Cunane and Maryland senior guard Kaila Charles.
“It’s a great honor for Chennedy, I don’t think there’s much difference between the first and second team, because there’s great players on all three teams, but particularly the first and second,” Blair said, adding that all are projected to be high WNBA draft picks or played for highly ranked teams.
Ionescu was the Pac-12 Conference’s player of the year. Howard (Southeastern), Cox (Big 12), Walker (American Athletic) and Evans (Atlantic Coast) also were their respective conference’s players of the year.
“I’d love to see a pickup game between the first and second team, I’d think that would be just great for basketball,” Blair said. “But I don’t want to take away from that saying the second team is better than first because how can you say Ionescu and Rhyne Howard, who was our player of the year, and I think everybody on there was just dynamite.”
Carter was on AP’s preseason first team and showed why by scoring 34 points in a 93-63 loss to the U.S. National Team in an exhibition on Nov. 7. It was the most points scored by a collegiate against the National Team in 23 years.
“I think even with all the stuff we sent out on her for the All-American teams, people forget what she did against the Olympic team,” Blair said. “She was 10 of 21 [from the field], 5 out of 10 [on 3-pointers], 9 of 9 on free throws, two blocks shots, three assists, one turnover in 32 minutes.”
Blair said that was impressive, considering she was going against the nation’s best.
“I think that’s an accomplishment in itself,” Blair said.
Carter ended the season with 1,983 career points which is six short of the school record held by Courtney Walker.
Carter is eligible for the WNBA draft, which is scheduled for April 17, but that could change because of the coronavirus. The deadline for underclassmen to declare is 10 days before the draft.
NOTES — Ionescu, who opted to return for her senior season after the Ducks lost to Baylor in the semifinals last year, became only the eighth three-time All-American. The last was South Caorlina’s A’ja Wilson. Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw, Duke’s Alana Beard, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris and UConn’s Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore were the others with Paris and Moore being four-time All-Americans.
Ionescu shattered the NCAA career triple-double mark and became the first player in college history to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.
“Sabrina is a transcendent basketball player,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “There’s really nothing that she couldn’t do on the court. She was the ultimate leader.”
Cox earned first-team honors for the first-time by averaging 12.5 points and 8.4 rebounds while blocking nearly 2.7 shots a game. She only played in 22 of the Lady Bears 30 games because of a stress reaction in her foot early in the season.
“She is so deserving,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “Just her presence on the floor made us better whether she scored a point or not. Her presence brought an air of confidence to our basketball team.”
Howard did nearly everything for Kentucky this season. The sophomore guard averaged 23.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and hit 84 3-pointers. She is the Wildcats’ first women’s player to be a first-team All-American.
“Rhyne is the definition of an All-American and one of those rare players that impacts the game in absolutely every statistical category . She’s so much more than a prolific scorer,“ Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. ”She has zero weaknesses which makes her the most dynamic player in college basketball.”
Walker gave UConn a first-teamer for the seventh consecutive season. Walker, who declared she was entering the WNBA draft and not returning for her senior season, averaged 19.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 47.7% from the field.
“Meg put in a lot of work before and during the season to elevate her game. She transformed herself into being one of our go-tos on the court,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Megan had an incredible season and this honor is a testament to her hard work.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.