Bell Named to Wooden Award’s Top 20 Late Season Watch List
FORT MYERS, FL. – FGCU outstanding protection Kierstan Bell (Alliance, Ohio/Canton McKinley HS/Ohio State) has been included in the John R. Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 Watch List, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced on ESPNU earlier Monday night.
This is the most recent midseason watchlist selected by Bell in addition to the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year midseason watchlist and the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 watchlist.
“Kierstan is certainly one of the best players in the nation,” said the head coach Karl Smesko. “It’s great to see her competing for such a prestigious award.”
In addition to being a member of the Hammon Award Top 15 and Wooden Award Top 20, Bell is also in the running for several other national awards due to her impressive resume: the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Naismith Trophy Watch List, the Wade Award Top 30 Watch List and the Ann Myers-Drysdale Award Top 20 Watch List. Last season, she won the Hammon Award, becoming the second player since its inception in 2019-20.
Bell, who turned 11 this seasonth Career Player of the Week honor is currently the fourth-best scorer in the nation with 23.4 points per game while also adding 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks. She currently holds the FGCU record for career double-doubles with 23–43 games. Overall, she has 1,356 total career points in 73 games between her season at Ohio State and two seasons with the Eagles.
Bell, the highest-rated recruit to ever play for FGCU, was named the 16th-best player in NCAA Division I women’s basketball for the 2021-22 season by ESPN.com.
In her first season at FGCU last year, Bell had one of the best seasons of any player in the country, averaging 24.3 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.9 steals per game. She was the first player in ASUN history to win both Player and Newcomer of the Year awards, earned a spot on the Wade Trophy Mid-Season Watch List, and made the NCAA.com Starting Five twice. Along the way, she was ASUN Player of the Week six times and conference-record ASUN Newcomer of the Week ten times. Additionally, she compiled 16 double-doubles last year, which not only broke the program’s single-season record, but also ranked third among all Eagles in their career.
She was named ASUN Tournament MVP last year while leading the Eagles to the ASUN Tournament Championship and finishing the season as the nation’s fourth-leading scorer. Bell’s 24.3 points per match was the sixth-best average in ASUN’s 36-year history. Her 81 three-point field goals made ranked her seventh in program history, which also placed her 12th in a single season in ASUN history. In fact, she averaged 3.11 3-point field goals per game, the highest average in conference history.
Over the past season, Bell has received several nationally-respected awards and honors, including WBCA Honorable Mention All-American, Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, USBWA Honorable Mention All-American, ASUN Player of the Year (unanimous), and ASUN Freshman of the Year ( unanimously). Bell also set new FGCU season records for total points (632), average scored, field goals scored, and defensive rebounds per game. She led the ASUN in goals scored, rebounds, field goals made and 3-point field goals while finishing second in blocks and third in steals. Her total points last year is the ninth-highest in ASUN history and she became the first player to eclipse 600 points since Shanika Freeman in 2002-03.
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Wooden award Presented by Wendy’s
Top 20 of the 2021-22 postseason
|Kierstan Bell||Florida Gulf Coast||A SUN||6-1||jr||G|
|Aliyah Boston*||South Carolina||SEC||6-5||jr||f|
|Caitlin Clark||Iowa||big ten||6-0||soph||G|
|Elissa Cunane||NC state||Acc||6-5||sir||C|
|Destanni Henderson||South Carolina||SEC||5-7||sir||G|
|Naz Hillmon||Michigan||big ten||6-2||sir||f|
|Mackenzie Holmes||Indiana||big ten||6-3||jr||f|
|Ashley Jones||State of Iowa||big 12||6-1||sir||G/F|
|Elizabeth Kitley||Virginia Tech||Acc||6-6||jr||C|
|Ayoka Lee||State of Kansas||big 12||6-6||jr||C|
|Aneesah Morrow||DePaul||Great East||6-1||Mrs.||f|
|Ashley Owusu||Maryland||big ten||6-0||jr||G|
|Angel Reese||Maryland||big ten||6-3||soph||F/G|
|NaLyssa Smith*||Baylor||big 12||6-4||sir||f|
* indicates the player selected for the All American 2021 Wooden Award
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FGCU Head Coach Karl Smesko holds a career overall record of 599-126 (.826), which is the third-highest win ratio among active Division I coaches, behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and LSU’s Kim Mulkey. He has also led the Eagles to a 225-17 (.929) mark in ASUN regular season play and a 27-2 (.931) record in ASUN tournament play. In the past 10 seasons, he has led FGCU to a 153-5 (.968) record in conference play with six unbeaten seasons. The 11-time ASUN Coach of the Year has led the program to 11 consecutive 25-win seasons and 17 consecutive 20-win campaigns, including more than 30 wins in four of the past seven years. Additionally, the Eagles are 538-99 (.844) all-time since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Green and Blue’s .844 all-time win ratio is the best in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.
FGCU Athletics sponsors November and April events to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), the charities of choice of FGCU Athletics. For more information, including how to contribute, visit www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to raise awareness.
FGCU teams have collectively won an incredible 87 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have contested a total of 43 teams or individuals in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a national top-25 ranking in their respective sports –– including women’s basketball (No. 20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021), and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer ( 2018) as three of the youngest. In 2016-17, the Greens and Blues finished in the division’s best sixth place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and made the top-100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had the top seven teams from ASUN and Florida to earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their rate of academic progress in their sport. FGCU also achieved a combined record 3.50 GPA in the classroom for the Fall 2020 semester and has surpassed the university’s general student population for 25 consecutive semesters. Another milestone was reached in each of the Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Fall 2021 semesters, as all 15 programs each achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also contributed an all-time high of 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 and were recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.