Drake’s Clark named MVC Player of the Year

ST. LOUIS – Drake’s junior sharpshooter Kyndal Clark was awarded the Jackie Stiles Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year award on Thursday, just one day after she and teammate Lizzy Wendell were named to the conference’s first team.

Wendell also earned individual recognition from the league as she was named MVC co-Freshman of the Year and Northern Iowa coach Tanya Warren was picked as the league’s coach of the year for the second time in her career. UNI’s Jen Keitel joined both Clark and Wendell on the MVC first team, as announced by the league on Wednesday.

Clark was picked as the league’s best player after averaging a league-best 19.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while Wendell was fifth in the MVC in scoring at 16.1 points per game.

Warren last won coach of the year in the league back in 2011. The Panthers had a tough non-conference season but rebounded to finish third in MVC play.

“I am extremely honored and humbled,” said Warren. “This is truly a staff award. I am blessed to be surrounded by outstanding individuals who dedicate their hearts daily to help UNI women’s basketball be the best we can be.”

The Panthers finished 17-12 this season but were 13-5 in league play. It was the fifth straight year that UNI won at least 17 games.

Clark hit a school- and conference-record 108 3-pointers this season, including a Drake single-game best 10 against Loyola back on Jan. 24. She earned all-freshman honors two seasons ago and was named to the MVC second team last year.

Clark has started 94 games in her career and already ranks eighth all-time in minutes played at 3,080. She is the sixth Drake player to earn conference player of the year and the first since Wanda Ford in 1985. Current Iowa assistant coach Jan Jansen also won the honor in 1991.

Wendell made the most of her freshman season at Drake. She scored 20 or more points in a game nine time and became just the third MVC freshman to score at least 400 points in their rookie campaign.

The honor for Wendell comes as no surprise though as she was named MVC Newcomer of the Week a league-best eight times. She is the seventh Drake freshman to be selected freshman of the year and the first since Carla Bennett in 2000.

Sharing the freshman of the year honor with Wendell was Evansville’s Sara Dickey. Alex Harden of Wichita State was the MVC Defensive Player of the Year and MVC Newcomer of the Year went to Indiana State’s Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir.