Peyton Williams is having a week full of preseason hardware after getting put on two prestigious preseason watch lists, the Naismith Trophy Watch List and the Wooden Award Watch List.
All of it this happened in a matter of 48 hours. The Kansas State women's basketball star Williams was announced for the Wooden Award on Tuesday, and Naismith on Wednesday.
“It’s really cool, but I guess I’m not quite into basketball mode yet to be fair," Williams, who is still balancing being on the Kansas State volleyball team, said at a media availability on Wednesday. "I think that’s why it was unexpected. It was a surprise.”
Wildcats head coach Jeff Mittie was excited for what the award meant for the Wildcats, but remained focused on the team's first game against Omaha on Friday.
“Coming off USA basketball, I think that gets on the radar right away," Mittie said. "I think the one thing about those awards, it’s awesome for the program. She wouldn’t even be in the conversation if we weren’t a team that also was coming off an NCAA birth and had some good quality players. But we will put these in the drawer and get better.”
The list includes 30 student-athletes who stand out as some of college basketball’s best at the outset of the season. National women’s college basketball media members make the selections.
Williams selection to the watch list is an indicator that she’s considered a strong candidate for the award for the upcoming season.
The national ballot will include 15 of the top players in the country who either meet or exceed the qualifications for the Wooden Award. A thousand voters rank the national ballot players when the voting opens before the NCAA Tournament. Selections to the Wooden Award All-American Team will come during the week of the Elite Eight round of the tournament. There will be an award presentation for the winner during the ESPN College Basketball Awards on April 10, 2020.
Williams is one of four Big 12 players who made the list of 30, including Lauren Cox, Juicy Landrum and DiDi Richards of Baylor.
The other candidates are: Bella Alarie of Princeton, DiJonai Carrington of Stanford, Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M, Kaila Charles of Maryland, Crystal Dangerfield of Connecticut, Rennia Davis of Tennessee, Chelsea Dungee of Arkansas, Dana Evans of Louisville, Kiah Gillespie of Florida State, Haley Gorecki of Duke, Tyasha Harris of South Carolina, Ruthy Hebard of Oregon, Becca Hittner of Drake, Rhyne Howard of Kentucky, Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon, Aari McDonald of Arizona, Ayana Mitchell of LSU, Beatrice Mompremier of Miami, Erica Ogwumike of Rice, Michaela Onyenwere of UCLA, Ali Patberg of Indiana, Mikayla Pivec of Oregon State, Satou Sabally of Oregon, Destiny Slocum of Oregon State, Christyn Williams of Connecticut and Kiana Williams of Stanford.
Williams became the fourth player in program history to be named to the Wooden Award watch list. Those before her were Nicole Ohlde, Kendra Wecker and Shalee Lehning. Both Ohlde and Wecker were finalists.
Williams also was named to the 2020 Katrina McClain Award watch list in October. That award is given to the nation’s top power forward. Williams also selected as one of the top 25 players in the country by ESPN.com entering the 2019-20 season.
Williams, a 2020 All-America candidate, returns to play as the Big 12’s top leading rebounder and fifth-highest returning scorer.
She is the fourth player in program history to have 1,000 or more career points, 600 or more rebounds and 80 or more blocks.
Williams finished her junior season averaging 9.5 boards a game. She also led the Big 12 in rebounding percentage (26.6).
Williams, who was an All-Big 12 First Team player, saw her scoring average increase for the third consecutive season. She led the team in both points per game (15.5) and free throw percentage (.833).
Williams and the Wildcats begin the regular season on Friday against Omaha at Bramlage Coliseum at 6:30 p.m.