Who to Watch Wednesday: Women's Basketball Player of the Year Candidates

As the calendar moves to fall, BIG EAST women's basketball is on the horizon. The league will host its annual media day on October 18 in New York City, at which the conference will announce its preseason award winners and all-conference teams.


While the preseason awards are an honor looking towards the season, any player would tell you the real individual prize will be unveiled in Hartford in March, when the BIG EAST announces its Player of the Year. A strong group of contenders for that award are back from last year, including six members of the 2011-12 All-BIG EAST First Team (three unanimous selections) as well as the reigning Player and Freshman of the Year.


After three consecutive All-America seasons, two straight trips to the national championship game and a BIG EAST Player of the Year Award, Notre Dame senior Skylar Diggins enters this season as a bona fide star. She already has put an impressive stamp on the Irish record book - appearing in the top 10 of nine statistical categories.


#BEMediaDay Goes Live!

This year, for the very first time, BIGEAST.org will stream a live show from BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day on October 18. Hosted by ESPN and the BIG EAST Network's Bob Picozzi, the show will feature live interviews with BIG EAST players and coaches.

For more information, visit Media Day Central.

Diggins is looking to become the first player since Connecticut's Maya Moore to win the award in consecutive seasons. Only five players have ever accomplished the feat (Moore in 2008 and 2009, Diana Taurasi in 2003 and 2004, Rebecca Lobo in 1994 and 1995, Kerry Boscam in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and Shelley Pennefather in 1985, 1986 and 1987.


A pair of Connecticut Huskies also figure to be in the conversation. Junior guard Bria Hartley is back after finishing last season third on the team with 14.0 ppg and second with 140 assists. Last year's Freshman and Sixth Man of the Year Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led the team with 15.0 ppg.


DePaul senior Anna Martin looks to build on a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selection.  The guard led the BIG EAST in scoring with 19.0 points per game and chipped in 3.3 assists per game in 2011-12.


Prolific scorer Sugar Rodgers returns to Georgetown for her senior season. Rodgers was named an All-American Honorable Mention by both the AP and WBCA last year and led the Hoyas with 18.5 ppg. She is on track to break the program's all-time scoring record and is just 195 points from 2,000 in her career. Rodgers also grabbed 71 steals and 5.4 rebounds per game last year. She was a unanimous selection to the All-BIG EAST First Team last year.


Guard Shoni Schimmel will try to bring the award back to Louisville for the first time since Angel McCoughtry won it in 2006-07. The point guard earned First Team All-BIG EAST honors as a sophomore last year. Schimmel averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per game last year.


Other candidates to watch include St. John's guard Shenneika Smith, Syracuse center Kayla Alexander and Villanova forward Laura Sweeney  and no one can foresee where the next big surprise will come from. Let us know what you think about this year's crop of candidates on our Facebook page, on Twitter (@BIGEASTWBB) and our Pinterest Board of candidates: https://pinterest.com/bigeast/2012-13-wbb-player-of-the-year-candidates/