March 30, 2012
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced on Friday that its annual Women's National Player of the Year Award from this moment forward will be named the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year Award after the former Bruin great who led UCLA to a national title.
The award honors one of the all-time greats of the game. Meyers Drysdale was the first four-time All-American (1975-78)and she helped bring the Bruins a national title in 1978 while playing in the AIAW.
"I am quite thrilled and excited to become part of this," said Meyers Drysdale on learning of her choice by the USBWA for the honor. "It's nice to be considered along with the other names being talked about for these awards. It is nice to be regarded as one who has helped grow the women's game."
"I know some of these young winners probably never heard of me," Meyers Drysdale quipped. "But it's nice to link women's notables from the past with the stars of the present day."
Meyers Drysdale, currently vice president of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and NBA's Phoenix Suns, is an inductee of the Naismith Memorial and Women's Basketball Halls of Fame, among numerous other honors such as induction in the FIBA Hall of Fame.
This year's winner of the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award will be announced on Tuesday morning at the USWBA Women's Basketball Awards Breakfast sponsored by ESPN, in Denver, the site of the NCAA Women's Final Four, at the Hyatt Hotel at 9 a.m. MT.
Meyers Drysdale, the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship at UCLA, will be on hand to present the award to the winner, who will come from one of the 10 USBWA All-Americans.
Meyers Drysdale has also had a distinguished broadcasting career for more than 30 years, with emphasis on broadcasting the Olympics for NBC and NCAA tournament games as well as regular-season college games for ESPN and FSN. She has also been an analyst for CBS and also worked WNBA games for NBC and ESPN prior to her hire by Phoenix.
Fittingly, this honor comes on the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark federal legislation in 1972 that increased opportunities for women on the playing fields in collegiate sports.
"Honoring Annie is the first of an initiative begun this year to start putting names of some of the greats of the women's games on annual awards in almost the same manner on the men's side that now offers the Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Trophy and Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award," said Mel Greenberg, the women's representative on the USBWA board of directors.
"In mentioning potential candidates for the women's honor to prominent persons in both the men's and women's games, as well as media members of USBWA covering both men and women, Ann's name was the one which was overwhelmingly endorsed as a top choice," Greenberg said.
Meyers Drysdale was married to the late Los Angeles Dodgers pitching great Don Drysdale, who also was an Olympian. She is the only woman to have signed an NBA free-agent contract when the Indiana Pacers inked her in September 1979, though she did not make the team.
Meyers Drysdale, who has two sons, Don Drysdale Jr. and Darren, and a daughter Drew, is co-authoring a book on her life, "You Let Some GIRL Beat You," which is set to come out in June.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association, formed in 1956, has named a women's All-America team since the 1996-97 season. The association has also named a national player of the year since 1987-88 and a national coach of the year since 1989-90. This season marked the first time the USBWA named a weekly national player of the week. In 2002-03, the USBWA initiated an award for the nation's top freshman.