Gray, Williams named to preseason Wade Watch list

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

DURHAM, N.C.Duke Blue Devils senior guard Chelsea Gray and junior center Elizabeth Williams were two of 25 candidates presented on the 2013-14 preseason Wade Watch list as released by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils are one of four teams with two candidates in contention for the prestigious Wade Trophy which is named in honor of the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade.

California, Notre Dame and Tennessee also placed two on the list, while Connecticut had four student-athletes represented.

Regarded as “The Heisman of Women’s Basketball,” the award is presented annually to the NCAA Division I Player of the Year by the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and the WBCA.

The preseason list is composed of top NCAA Division I women’s basketball players who best embody Wade’s spirit from 18 different institutions and seven conferences as selected by a committee of coaches, administrators and media from across the United States compiled the list using the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team, and overall playing ability.

Gray is coming off a year in which she was injured during an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) game against Wake Forest and subsequently didn’t return for the remainder of the season as a result.

At the time of the injury, Gray was having one of the best individual seasons played in Duke history.

As the 2013 Co-ACC Player of the Year and a 2013 WBCA All-America, she was averaging 13.1 points, 5.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 steals heading into game against the Demon Deacons.

She led the ACC in assists and steals, while ranking in the top 10 nationally in steals as well.

In three years with the Blue Devils, Gray has totaled 1,026 points, 423 assists, 248 steals and 407 rebounds, while playing in 92 games.

A two-time All-America for the Blue Devils, Gray is the single-season record holder for Duke in assists (201) and needs 157 to pass former Blue Devil Lindsey Harding (579) for the all-time career mark.

Williams is one of the top post players in the nation and averaged 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals last season.

She ranked eighth nationally in blocks, and has averaged one per game in each of her 69 career games played at Duke.

The 6-foot-3-inch center became the first player in ACC history to tally 200 blocks in her first two years at Duke and reached 1,000 career points in only 69 games played becoming the fourth-quickest Duke player to reach the 1000-point club accordingly.

The two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year has also recorded 20 or more points in seven games games during her collegiate career thus far.

Williams became the first Blue Devil to be named an Associated Press (AP) All-America in each of her first two years at Duke.

2013-14 Wade Trophy Preseason Candidates

Player, School

Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame

Rachel Banham, Minnesota

Brittany Boyd, California

Gennifer Brandon, California

Jerica Coley, FIU

Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut

Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma

Bashaara Graves, Tennessee

Chelsea Gray, Duke

Bria Hartley, Connecticut

Jordan Hooper, Nebraska

Maggie Lucas, Penn State

Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech

Kayla McBride, Notre Dame

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut

Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford

Theresa Plaisance, LSU

Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee

Shoni Schimmel, Louisville

Meighan Simmons, Tennessee

Odyssey Sims, Baylor

DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky

Breanna Stewart, Connecticut

Alyssa Thomas, Maryland

Elizabeth Williams, Duke