MANHATTAN, Kansas – K-State teammates Gabby Gregory and Ayoka Lee continue to collect early season honors, as they have been named to the 2023-24 John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year presented by Principal Watch List. This is the first time Gregory has been named as a candidate for the award, while Lee was named a candidate for the third time in her career.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2024 John R. Wooden Award Women’s Player of the Year presented by Principal. Players not chosen to the preseason list are still eligible for the Wooden Award™ midseason list, late season list, and the National Ballot. The National Ballot consists of 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the Wooden Award. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games. The Wooden Award All American Team™ will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2024 John R. Wooden Award will be presented in Los Angeles in April.
Gregory and Lee were also named candidates for the 2023-24 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Women’s Player of the Year. Gregory was named to the 2023-24 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List which is award annually to the nation’s top shooting guard.
For the third time in her career, Lee was selected to the 2023-24 Lisa Leslie Award Watch List, present annually to the nation’s top center. Fan voting for the positional awards is currently being conducted at hoophallawards.com.
Gregory, the Big 12 Conference’s top returning scorer from the 2022-23 season, established career season-highs in every statistical category including: scoring (648; 18.5 ppg), field goals made and attempted (201-of-489), three-point field goals made and attempted (84-of-257), free throws made and attempted (162-of-193), rebounding (187; 5.3 rpg), assists (71; 2.0 apg) and steals (24; 0.7 spg).
The product of Tulsa, Oklahoma, ranked second in the Big 12 in scoring (18.5 ppg), third in free throw percentage (.839), sixth in field goal percentage (.411) and 3-point field goals made per game (2.4) and eighth for minutes played per game (34.21) She was second in the Big 12 with 19 games of 20 or more points.
Gregory, an All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2023, was one of five players in the nation last season to average 18 or more points, five or more rebounds and two or more 3-point field goals made per game. She was the first player in K-State history and one of four in the nation with 625 or more points, 160 or more made free throws and 80 or more connections from beyond the arc.
She ranked second in school history for free throws made in a season (162) and set the school record for free throws made by a senior in a season.
Prior to missing the 2022-23 season due to the rehabilitation from a knee injury, Lee was a First Team All-American by The Athletic and Sports Illustrated, a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press and USBWA, a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America Honorable Mention recipient, a finalist for the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award, a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection by the league’s coaches and garnered her first selection to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team in the 2021-22 season.
Lee completed the 2021-22 season with career-highs in a number of statistical categories including points (727), points per game (22.0), field goals made and attempted (296-526), free throws made and attempted (135-175), rebounds (339), blocks (95), steals (39), assists (23) and double-doubles (20).
In her career, Lee ranks sixth in school history for points scored with 1,707, sixth for rebounds with 904, third for blocks with 240, fifth for field goals made with 683 and fourth for free throws made with 341. She is also second for double-doubles with 50.
The Wildcats complete a two-game road trip on Thursday night, as K-State visits (2/3) Iowa at 7:30 p.m. Thursday’s game can be seen live on FS1 and can be heard on the K-State Sports Network, on the K-State Sports app and on kstatesports.com. The game will also be available on SiriusXM Channel 84 and on the SiriusXM app.
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All America Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. Honorees have proven to their university that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the John R. Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee, including making progress towards graduation and maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Kevin Durant (’07), Candace Parker (’07; ’08), Maya Moore (’09; ’11), Breanna Stewart (’15; ’16), and last year’s recipients, Caitlin Clark of Iowa and Zach Edey of Purdue.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed nearly one million dollars to the universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the Wooden Award All American recipients and has sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament brings together Special Olympics athletes and Wooden Award All Americans and coaches in attendance. It is hosted at the Los Angeles Athletic Club during the John R. Wooden Award Weekend.
The Legends of Coaching Award presented by Principal will be presented to University of Kentucky coach John Calipari, along with the Wooden Award Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year on April 12, 2024. For up-to-date information on the Wooden Award, please go to www.woodenaward.com and follow the Wooden Award on Facebook at www.facebook.com/woodenaward and @WoodenAward on Twitter and Instagram.