Photos courtesy of Penn and Princeton Athletic Communications, Yale Sports Publicity
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Penn junior forward Michelle Nwokedi was selected Player of the Year, Princeton freshman guard/forward Bella Alarie was voted Rookie of the Year, Yale junior guard Tamara Simpson was named Defensive Player of the Year and Penn head coach Mike McLaughlin was chosen Coach of the Year after a vote by the eight Ivy League women’s basketball head coaches.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
For the eighth time overall and the third in the past four years, a Quaker took home Player of the Year honors. Penn junior forward Michelle Nwokedi (Missouri City, Texas) is this year's recipient after leading the Quakers in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (9.3 rpg) and blocks (2.8 bpg), ranking fifth, second and first in the League in those categories, respectively. She has 12 double-doubles on the year, second only to Columbia’s Camille Zimmerman (13). Nwokedi, who also received Rookie of the Year in 2014-15, is the 13th Ivy to earn both awards and the third from Penn, joining Diana Caramanico, Alyssa Baron and her teammate Sydney Stipanovich, who was named Player of the Year last season. Nwokedi earned Player of the Week four times in 2016-17 and was unanimously selected first-team All-Ivy.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Princeton freshman guard/forward Bella Alarie (Bethesda, Md.) leads the Tigers in scoring (12.6 ppg) and is second in rebounding (7.4 rpg), while setting a Princeton freshman record with 47 blocks. She has six double-doubles on the year and received Rookie of the Week nine times, the sixth Ivy ever to accomplish the feat and first since former Tiger Niveen Rasheed in 2009-10. Alarie, who was voted first-team All-Ivy, was also a three-time Player of the Week. She is just the third Tiger to be named Rookie of the Year, joining Meagan Cowher (2004-05) and Rasheed (2009-10).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Yale junior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) was stellar on defense all season long, leading the League and ranking 20th nationally with 79 steals. Simpson recorded at least two steals in 19 games this season, including nine games with at least four steals and three games with six or more. Through the course of the season, Simpson became Yale’s all-time leader in that category. She is the first Bulldog to be named Defensive Player of the Year, and Yale’s first postseason award honoree since Sarah Halejian was named Rookie of the Year in 2010-11.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Penn head coach Mike McLaughlin guided the Quakers to a 20-7 overall year, including a 13-1 mark in Ivy League play and a second-straight outright Ivy title. Penn also earned the top seed in the Ivy League Basketball Tournament, Saturday and Sunday at the Palestra. McLaughlin’s Quakers started 1-3, but then rebounded to go 20-4 the rest of the way, including winning 13 of their 14 games against Ivy competition, the eighth-best conference in the country according to NCAA RPI. McLaughlin is the first two-time winner of the award since it was implemented in 2014-15.
Nwokedi and Alarie were joined on the first team by Harvard freshman guard Katie Benzan, Cornell senior forward Nia Marshall and Columbia junior guard/forward Camille Zimmerman.
Zimmerman (Tempe, Ariz.) was the second unanimous selection along with Nwokedi after posting monster numbers for the Lions. Zimmerman finished with a Columbia program record 608 points, just the seventh Ivy to surpass 600 points for a season. Her 608 points is the sixth-highest single-season total in League history, and she also tallied an Ivy-best 13 double-doubles on the year. She is the sixth Lion to be named to the first team, the first to do so since Kathleen Barry in 2009-10.
Marshall (Macedonia, Ohio) led the Big Red in scoring (15.3 ppg), rebounding (6.9 ppg) and steals (1.7 spg) en route to her second first-team honor. She was a four-time Player of the Week in 2016-17 and is now the first-ever Big Red to be named to the first team twice. Besides Alarie, another freshman also made the All-Ivy first team in Harvard’s Benzan (Wellesley, Mass.), who leads the League in assists (4.1 apg) and is sixth in scoring (13.6 ppg). Benzan was a six-time Rookie of the Week and also received Player of the Week honors on Jan. 2.
The second-team All-Ivy features a pair of Bears guards in sophomore Shayna Mehta (San Francisco) and freshman Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.), along with Princeton junior forward Leslie Robinson (Corvallis, Ore.) and two Quakers, junior guard Anna Ross (Syracuse, N.Y.) and senior center Sydney Stipanovich (St. Louis). For Stipanovich, it marks her fourth-straight All-Ivy honor.
Bella Alarie, Princeton (Fr., G/F – Bethesda, Md.)
Katie Benzan, Harvard (Fr., G – Wellesley, Mass.)
Nia Marshall, Cornell (Sr., F – Macedonia, Ohio)
*Michelle Nwokedi, Penn (Jr., F – Missouri City, Texas)
*Camille Zimmerman, Columbia (Jr., G/F – Tempe, Ariz.)
Justine Gaziano, Brown (Fr., G – Natick, Mass.)
Shayna Mehta, Brown (So., G – San Francisco)
Leslie Robinson, Princeton (Jr., F – Corvallis, Ore.)
Anna Ross, Penn (Jr., G – Syracuse, N.Y.)
Sydney Stipanovich, Penn (Sr., C – St. Louis)
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IVY
Jen Berkowitz, Yale (Jr., F – Wayland, Mass.)
Megan LeDuc, Cornell (Sr., G – Vienna, Va.)
Kate Letkewicz, Dartmouth (Jr., G – Waterloo, Iowa)
Destiny Nunley, Harvard (Sr., F – North Richland Hills, Texas)