When Courtney Vandersloot was named West Coast Conference women’s basketball player of the year on Monday she did what she does better than anyone in league history.
She dished off.
“It says a lot about my team, who I’m playing with,” the Gonzaga point guard said. “I’m surrounded by great players.”
The junior from Kent, Wash., who set both the league and school records for single-season and career assists, is right on the mark.
She was joined on the All-WCC team by senior teammates Heather Bowman and Vivian Frieson. Senior Tiffany Shives is honorable mention and sophomore Katelan Redmon is the newcomer of the year.
As Kelly Graves said after receiving coach of the year honors, “I have the best players. I’m really blessed and very fortunate.”
The Zags head into the WCC tournament this weekend with a 25-4 record and 16-game winning streak after posting the league’s third, and school’s second, perfect league record, 14-0.
Impressive on their own, the awards accentuate why the Bulldogs are ranked 17th in the country, the high-water for a WCC team. However, the accumulation of awards reflects why Gonzaga has won an unprecedented six straight regular-season championships.
Vandersloot, who was newcomer of the year as a freshman, is just the second player in league history to repeat as player of the year, giving GU the award for the fourth straight season and fifth time in the last six.
Bowman, the newcomer of the year as a freshman and player of the year as a sophomore, became just the third player in league history to earn All-WCC honors four straight years.
With Frieson repeating on the All-WCC team, it is the first time a school has had three selections on the 10-member team twice, let alone in consecutive years.
Redmon, who played at Lewis and Clark, started her career at Washington and sat out last season after transferring. She averaged 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds, mostly off the bench, and gives GU the newcomer award for the third time in four seasons.
And Graves, in his 10th year at Gonzaga, is the first coach to be honored by his peers five times.
Vandersloot leads the nation in assists at 9.4 and is second in steals at 3.6. Her 273 assists this year broke school and league records. She has 703 for her career.
Bowman, who also played at Lewis and Clark, broke the league and school career records for points and has 2,101. Frieson, from Seattle, reached 1,000 career points this year.
Louella Tomlinson of Saint Mary’s, who leads the nation in blocked shots and set the NCAA record for career blocked shots, repeated as defensive player of the year. She earned consideration for player of the year but one league coach said it was no contest.
“With all due respect, Courtney Vandersloot is the best player in the conference, hands down,” Portland’s Jim Sollars, the dean of WCC coaches, said. “When it comes to the best player in our conference, the only player that even challenges her is Heather Bowman.
“Courtney is probably the top player, or is in the top two or three players,” in WCC history, he added.
Tifa Puletasi of St. Mary’s, a Mead graduate, is on the All-Freshman team.