Women's basketball player of year race wide open

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm •  Published: February 7, 2014

With a little more than a month left in the regular season, the women's basketball player of the year race is wide open.

That's a somewhat rare situation since over the past few years it almost seemed a forgone conclusion before the season even started who was going to be the top player in the country.

"It is great having so many people who could win player of the year," ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. "They are all so different in what they do. Usually by now someone would have set themselves apart, but this year there are definitely a few candidates."

In fact the AP player of the year award has been a runaway since 2007 when Oklahoma's Courtney Paris edged Tennessee's Candace Parker and Duke's Lindsey Harding by two votes. The year before LSU's Seimone Augustus received one vote more than North Carolina's Ivory Latta.

Parker, Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Brittney Griner all won by landslides.

The player of the year will be voted on by the panel that votes in the AP's weekly Top 25 poll and will be announced at the Final Four in Nashville, Tenn.

Here's a look at five potential candidates in alphabetical order, though there are certainly others out there:

KAYLA MCBRIDE: Notre Dame's senior guard left a strong impression in the fall at the USA basketball national team training camp. She has continued to impress this season in leading the Irish to an undefeated record so far. McBride is averaging 17 points, 5.6 rebounds and nearly 4 assists a game.

"Kayla has really stepped it up this season," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said to the South Bend Tribune. "Last year, she made a lot of big shots in big games, and has always played well in the big games. This year, she's just doing it so consistently. Her leadership has really grown. The team respects and listens to her. She's a great leader by example."

"She has ice water in her veins. She's a competitor. She loves a challenge. She loves to compete in big games and play against the other great players."

CHINEY OGWUMIKE: Stanford's senior forward has been putting up video game-like numbers this season in guiding the Cardinal to a 21-1 record. She's averaging 27 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 63 percent from the field.

"I personally think it's Chiney's leadership that makes her special," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "No matter how things are going she plays really hard. From the day she got on campus, she has been a warrior. She's evolved into a great player."

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