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Shakira Austin Placed on the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award Preseason Watch List

Shakira Austin Placed on the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award Preseason Watch List

Award Presented Annually to the Best Center in the Nation

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For the third season in a row, Ole Miss women’s basketball senior Shakira Austin has been named as one of 20 student-athletes nationwide selected to the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award Preseason Watch List, released by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association on Friday.

The Lisa Leslie Award – named after the three-time All-American, 1994 National Player of the Year and Class of 2015 Hall of Famer from USC – is in its fifth season and recognizes the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates. The Lisa Leslie Award is one of five that comprise the Naismith Starting 5 each season.

Austin continues to rack up preseason honors after a stellar 2020-21 season in her first year at Ole Miss. The senior has already earned both SEC Media Preseason All-SEC honors and SEC Coaches Preseason First-Team All-SEC accolades after a junior campaign that saw her win the C Spire Gillom Trophy and earn Honorable Mention All-America, First-Team All-SEC. Austin also made the Top-10 list cut for the Lisa Leslie Award this past February.

This is the third time that Austin has found herself on the preseason watch list for the Lisa Leslie Award after being named as a sophomore at Maryland during the 2019-20 preseason and earning the distinction prior to the 2020-21 season.

Fans are encouraged to participate in Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies in each of the three rounds. In early February, the watch list of 20 players for the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award will be narrowed to just 10. In early March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. Leslie and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee.

The winner of the 2022 Lisa Leslie Center Award will be announced live on ESPN at a TBD date and location, along with the other four members of the Women’s Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award and the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award, in addition to the Men’s Starting Five.

Previous winners of the Lisa Leslie Center of the Year Award include Aliyah Boston, South Carolina (2021, 2020), Megan Gustafson, Iowa (2019) and A’ja Wilson, South Carolina (2018).

For more information on the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award and the latest updates, log onto www.hoophallawards.com and follow @hoophall and #LeslieAward on Twitter and Instagram. Starting Five Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies goes live today, October 29.

2022 Lisa Leslie Award Preseason Watch List

Queen Egbo Baylor
Sara Hamson BYU
Jenna Staiti Georgia
Mackenzie Holmes Indiana
Monika Czinano Iowa
Ayoka Lee Kansas State
Hannah Gusters LSU
Shakira Austin Ole Miss
Jessika Carter Mississippi St.
Elissa Cunane NC State
Aliyah Boston South Carolina
Kamilla Cardoso South Carolina
Francesca Belibi Stanford
Tamari Key Tennessee
Ila Lane UC Santa Barbara
Olivia Nelson-Ododa UConn
Eleah Parker Virginia
Elizabeth Kitley Virginia Tech
Nancy Mulkey Washington
Bella Murekatete Washington St.

*Players can play their way onto and off of the list at any point in the 2021-22 season

About Lisa Leslie: 
Widely regarded as the best player in the country during her senior year of high school, Leslie decided to play basketball close to home at University of Southern California. While at USC, she set Pac-10 records for scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, earning All-Pac-10 honors each of her four seasons. In 1991, she was named national freshman of the year and went on to earn All-American Honors the following three seasons. In her senior season, she won multiple national player of the year awards, including the Naismith College Player of the Year and the WBCA Player of the Year. In the summer of 1997, the Women’s National Basketball Association was launched and with it, Lisa Leslie became a household name. The Los Angeles Sparks landed the hometown star, who would go on to help them win two world championships. As an eight-time All-Star and three-time MVP, Leslie became the face of the WNBA. In 2002, she became the first player to dunk in a WNBA game. Leslie retired as the all-time leading rebounder in WNBA history and was an eight-time First Team All-WNBA performer. Internationally, Leslie won four gold medals in Olympic competition. Since retiring from professional play, Leslie has worked as a sports commentator and analyst for several networks, while exploring fashion modeling and acting as well.

About the WBCA:
Founded in 1981, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of a diverse community of coaches to those organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport. For more information, visit us online: www.WBCA.org, follow @wbca1981 or call 1-770-279-8027.

About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame:
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was born, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating the game of basketball at every level – men and women, amateur and professional players, coaches and contributors, both domestically and internationally. The Hall of Fame museum is home to more than 400 inductees and over 40,000 square feet of basketball history. Nearly 200,000 people visit the Hall of Fame museum each year to learn about the game, experience the interactive exhibits and test their skills on the Jerry Colangelo “Court of Dreams.” Best known for its annual marquee Enshrinement Ceremony honoring the game’s elite, the Hall of Fame also operates over 70 high school and collegiate competitions annually throughout the country and abroad. For more information on the Basketball Hall of Fame organization, its museum and events, visit www.hoophall.com, follow @hoophall or call 1-877-4HOOPLA.

(Feature image credit: Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports)

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship--and continued as she watched Katie receive three degrees from Ole Miss, culminating with her Pharm D. in 2012. Evelyn, a member of the FWAA, USBWA and the NCBWA, has covered Rebel sports for numerous outlets. In addition to working for The Rebel Walk, Evelyn is a sports writer for a newspaper in Texas.

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