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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Houston's Laila Blair and Tiara Young Receive Conference Honors
POSTED: March 6 -- 8:55 a.m. CT
After leading the team in scoring this season, Houston's Laila Blair and Tiara Young earned postseason honors, voted on by the coaches of the American Athletic Conference, on March 5. Blair was named All-Conference First Team while Young was the unanimous Sixth Player of the Year.
Blair is the first Cougar to be named to The American All-Conference First Team in program history after leading the team in scoring and becoming Houston's 29th 1,000-point scorer this year. The Houston-native scored in double figures 22 times in 2022-23 with a stretch of 13-straight games scoring 10-plus points.
The junior scored a career-high 30 points at #24 South Florida in Houston's first ranked road win since 2004. In conference play, Blair averaged 13.7 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game and was efficient from the field and beyond the three-point line, shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from deep. Blair made 87.5 percent of her free throw attempts in conference play.
The All-Conference First Team honor is the third postseason honor for the junior after being named to the All-Freshman Team in 2020-21 and the All-Conference Second Team in 2021-22.
Young is also the first Sixth Player of the Year for Houston since joining the American in 2013-14 after scoring 11.1 points per game off the bench for the Cougars in league play. Young started just one game on Senior Night after coming off the bench in 26 games.
Young scored 10-points in eight of the 14 league games she played in, including a 24-point career-high at SMU in late January. Young made nearly 36 percent of her field goal attempts in conference play and dished out 2.0 assists per game against American opponents while pulling down 4.0 rebounds a game.
Players of the Year -- Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, F, South Florida and Elena Tsineke, G, South Florida
Defensive Player of the Year -- Danae McNeal, G, East Carolina
Freshman of the Year -- Amiya Joyner, F, East Carolina
Coach of the Year -- Kim McNeill, East Carolina
Most Improved Player -- Danae McNeal, G, East Carolina
Sixth Player of the Year -- Tiara Young, G, Houston *
Newcomer of the Year -- Sammie Puisis, G, South Florida
Ambassador Award -- Maya Mayberry, G, Tulsa
First Team All-Conference
Danae McNeal, G, East Carolina
Laila Blair, G, Houston
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, F, South Florida *
Elena Tsineke, G, South Florida *
Temira Poindexter, F, Tulsa
Second Team All-Conference
Jamirah Shutes, G, Memphis
Sammie Puisis, G, South Florida
Jasmine Smith, G, SMU
Savannah Wilkinson, F, SMU
Aleah Nelson, G, Temple
Third Team All-Conference
Amiya Joyner, F, East Carolina
Madison Griggs, G, Memphis
Dynah Jones, G, Tulane
Jane Asinde, F, Wichita State
Trajata Colbert, F, Wichita State
Amiya Joyner, F, East Carolina
Destiny Thomas, C, Memphis
Carla Brito, G/F, South Florida
Ella Brow, G, SMU
Ahrray Young, G, Tulsa
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