Ohio State’s domination of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Player of the Year award continued on March 1 when Jantel Lavender received the honor from both the league’s coaches and media.
Lavender, a junior center who led the conference in scoring (20.9 points per game) and field goal percentage (51.8) while finishing third in rebounding (10.4), won the award for the third time in as many seasons she has donned the scarlet and gray.
She is the second three-time winner of the laurel, joining Jessica Davenport, her predecessor in the pivot at Ohio State. Davenport was so honored from 2005-07.
Although no vote totals were released, Lavender’s stiffest challenge in three-peating likely came from teammate Samantha Prahalis.
The sophomore point guard led the league in assists (8.1) for the second season in a row and finished sixth in scoring (16.5).
For conference games only, Prahalis turned her scoring up a notch, averaging 18.2 points per game and finishing third in the league in three-point shooting percentage (43.0). She also led the league in assists during conference play with 7.2 per contest.
Lavender’s 19.9 points per game were tops in conference-only games, and she tied forward Jenna Smith of Illinois for second in the league in rebounding (10.8).
Five days before the league honors were chosen, Ohio State head coach Jim Foster was asked who he would pick for conference player of the year.
“Hopefully in their infinite wisdom the media and coaches will each vote for one of them,” he said. “I think they’re both deserving. Who’s better, Stockton or Malone? My ballot will remain secret. It might be split.”
Lavender and Prahalis were the only players selected unanimously to the All-Big Ten first team by both the media and coaches. Smith made both first teams and was a unanimous pick of the conference media. Penn State guard Tyra Grant also made both squads, while forward Kachine Alexander, the league’s leading rebounder, was a first-team pick by the coaches and Northwestern center Amy Jaeschke got the nod from the media.
The coaches picked Ohio State senior guard Shavelle Little to the all-defense team, and junior guard Brittany Johnson received honorable mention All-Big Ten from the media.
With the regular season having concluded, the awards season figures to be under way for the Buckeyes.
Lavender is on the watchlist for the Wooden, Wade and Naismith Awards while Prahalis is up for the Naismith and Wade Awards along with the Nancy Lieberman Award.
Ohio State begins play in the Big Ten tournament as the No. 1 seed at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Indianapolis.