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Incarnate Word graduate Collier named WNBA’s Rookie of the Year

Napheesa Collier showed she could be one of the best in high school and college basketball.

Collier dominated in high school at Incarnate Word Academy, where her number is retired. She chose to play in college for the Connecticut Huskies and had a tremendous career there.

Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier has been named the Associated Press’ WNBA Rookie of the Year. (Minnesota Lynx photo)

Now, she’s showing she can do it as a professional as well.

The 6-foot-1, 182-pound Collier, a forward for the Minnesota Lynx, has been named the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. Collier received eight of the 14 votes by the AP panel, with Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale getting the other six votes.

“It means a lot to me, as I said before, it was one of my goals coming into this season,” Collier said “It was a heated race and really publicized. There’s no question she’s a great scorer and I think she’ll do amazing things in her career.”

“It was the main goal I set for myself, starting this season off.”

Collier finished the season as only the fourth different player in league history to amass over 400 points, 200 rebounds, 75 assists, 50 steals, 25 blocks and 25 3-pointers in a single season. The other three are Tamika Catchings (seven times), Maya Moore (3 times) and Sheryl Swoopes.

“I’m not really a vocal person,” Collier says. “Even my game isn’t super flashy. But I get stuff done.”

She averaged 15.9 points in August, which earned her a Western Conference Player of the Week honor and helped her team clinch a playoff spot for the ninth straight season.

Lynx head coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve drafted Collier No. 6 overall back in April. Five days after UConn’s 81-76 loss to Notre Dame, she was at Nike’s New York headquarters on draft day holding up her brand-new Minnesota jersey.

It was just another step forward for Collier.

After moving to St. Peter’s from Jefferson City, where she played as a freshman, Collier went to Incarnate Word Academy.

By her senior year with the Red Knights, she was averaging 26.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. She led her squad to three state championships. Collier was named Missouri’s Gatorade Player of the Year twice.

Incarnate Word retired Collier’s jersey last December. Now it waves in the rafters next to the titles she helped win.

“She’s the best basketball player to ever come out of Missouri,” IWA coach Dan Rolfes said after the ceremony. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Collier was ranked no. 1 in the state coming out of high school in 2015 and in the top 10 nationally, according to espnW. She considered going to UConn, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, but the Huskies won out.

“I knew that I wanted to play professionally, and I knew (UConn) was going to get me the best prepared to do that,” Collier said. “And that’s exactly what they did.”

She ranks third in all-time scoring at UConn, fourth in rebounds, and seventh in blocks. She was also the team’s fifth player to reach the 2,000-point/1,000-rebound club .

As a rookie in the pros, Collier played in WNBA All-Star Game this summer.

Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier is showing playing against the Los Angeles Sparks back in August. (Minnesota Lynx photo)
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