After helping the USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Team to a gold medal and a perfect 6-0 record, Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) today was named the 2018 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.
This is the third such honor for Stewart, who also was the 2011 and 2013 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.
“It’s really an honor,” Stewart said. “Each time that I’ve won has had its own special meaning, its own special place.
“This one is special, because I was in a different position than I was with the other ones. I was playing with a lot of younger players and had to perform really well and be at my best at the World Cup.
“It wasn’t a team that had a lot of time together, and we didn’t have a lot of time to work with coach [Dawn] Staley in putting the pieces together.”
At the 2018 FIBA World Cup from Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain, Stewart started in all six games for the USA and averaged a team-leading 16.3 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. She shot 58.0 percent from the field and was named FIBA World Cup MVP and to the all-tournament team.
“Breanna has been an important part of our USA Basketball family for many years, and it was impressive this past September to watch her perform with such success at the World Cup,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley. “We are very grateful for her loyalty and dedication, and we are proud to celebrate the tremendous year she had in 2018.”
USA Basketball has presented its Female Athlete of the Year award annually since 1980.
“Stewie played each and every game with all her heart,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina), who was named the 2018 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. “She probably played more minutes than I should have given her, but she was that good. It was hard to keep her off the floor. What’s always telling about a player like Stewie is although she’s tired, she never asks to come out of a game. She always plays through things. She’s impactful on the floor. She is always sacrificing for the sake of the team. Even when she’s dog tired, she’s fighting through it.”
Among the 16-team field, Stewart ranked sixth for scoring and field goal percentage, eighth for 3-point field goal percentage (.471) and 14thfor rebounding.
She scored in double digits in all six of the USA’s games, including a team-high 23 points in the USA’s victory over China, 19 points against Nigeria in the quarterfinals, 20 points in the semifinals against Belgium and 10 points against Australia in the gold medal game.
Stewart joined the USA World Cup Team just two days prior to the start of the World Cup after helping lead the Seattle Storm to the 2018 WNBA Championship, where she earned WNBA Finals MVP honors.
Stewart also was named the 2018 WNBA MVP after she led the Storm to a league-best 26-8 record.