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Martinez and Niblack Named to McClain Award Watch List

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Oct. 28, 2021)  Junior forward Esmery Martinez and senior forward Kari Niblack of the No. 19-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team have been named to the 2022 Katrina McClain Award Watch List, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced Thursday.

The McClain Award annually recognizes the top power forward in women’s college basketball. Martinez and Niblack are two of the 20 members included on the preseason watch list, along with Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith, who also is representing the Big 12 Conference.

Additionally, Martinez and Niblack are one of two pairs of teammates included on the list, joining UConn’s Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Edwards.

Martinez enters the 2021-22 campaign after averaging a double-double a season ago, with 13.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. The junior forward has played in 58 career games during her Mountaineer career, including 29 starts. The Hato Mayor Del Ray, Dominican Republic, native has now been recognized with two preseason honors, as she was unanimously selected to the 2021-22 Preseason All-Big 12 Team on Oct. 6.

Additionally, Martinez was one of two Mountaineers selected to the 2021 All-Big 12 First Team.

Heading into her senior season, Niblack leads WVU in career points (881), rebounds (580), blocks (148) and field-goal percentage (48.4%). The Leesburg, Florida, native has been a mainstay in WVU’s lineup since the end of her freshman season and has played in 91 career games, with 63 starts. Niblack’s 148 career blocks rank No. 5 all-time in program history.

Niblack also was named to the 2021-22 Preseason All-Big 12 Team on Oct. 6, earning honorable-mention status, and has been named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in each of the last two seasons.

College basketball fans are encouraged to participate in fan voting, presented by Dell Technologies, in each of the three rounds. In late January, the watch list of 20 players for the 2022 Katrina McClain Power Forward of the Year Award will be narrowed to 10, and then in late February to just five. In March, the five finalists will be presented to Ms. McClain and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee, where a winner will be selected. 

The winner of the 2022 Katrina McClain Award will be presented on a to-be-determined date, along with the other four members of the Women’s Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award and the Lisa Leslie Center Award, in addition to the Men’s Starting Five.

Press Release: WVU Athletic Department

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