The glow over Megan Gustafson's incredible senior season hasn't faded yet -- and it shows no sign of fading anytime soon, particularly as she continues to rack up awards and honors. Big Ten Player of the Year? Check. ESPNW National Player of the Year? Check. AP Player of the Year Award? Lisa Leslie Award? Senior CLASS Award? Check, check, and check. Oh, and she got to hold a corgi, too.
Last Saturday Gustafson added yet another glittering honor to her already-incomparable resume, earning the Women's Citizen Naismith Trophy for Women's College Player of the Year in 2019. The Naismith Trophy, named after Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, is one of the top individual honors in college basketball. It, and the Wooden Trophy, are the closest things college basketball has to an award like the Heisman Trophy. So winning it is a pretty big deal! Gustafson is the first Iowa player to ever win the award.
Gustafson wasn't the only individual from the Iowa program honored by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, the organization that selects the Naismith Trophy winners. Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder was named the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year. Bluder is the second Iowa coach to win the award, after C. Vivian Stringer received the honor in 1993. Not coincidentally, Lisa Bluder guided Iowa to their best season since 1993 this year, finishing 29-7 overall, making the Elite 8 (where they lost to eventual national champion Baylor), winning the Big Ten Tournament, and narrowly missing out on a Big Ten regular season title as well.
Per the organization itself, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's voting body is composed of "leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners," as well as a fan vote that contributed 5% of the total vote for each winner.
Congratulations to Bluder and Gustafson on this excellent, and well-deserved, recognition. They took Iowa basketball to heights that had only rarely been seen before this year and sometimes to new heights altogether (as when Gustafson was demolishing school and conference records). We won't soon forget this season and that's a direct result of Gustafson's marvelous play and Bluder's superb coaching. Incredible season, ladies.