Smith named a Naismith Trophy finalist

The Utes’ Kim Smith has added another accolade to her burgeoning trophy case.

The two-time defending Mountain West Conference Player of the Year has been named one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Trophy, the most prestigious award in women’s college basketball.

“It is a great honor to be on the list among the other players listed,” Smith said. “It pays tribute to my teammates and my coaches who have helped me get to where I am today.”

The list of 30 is a pared-down version of the list of 50 published during the preseason. It is compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, and is selected by a group of journalists, coaches and administrators from around the nation.

In March, the list of 30 will be whittled down to the final four.

“These women represent the best college players in the nation,” Atlanta Tipoff Club president Gary Stokan said. “The Club looks forward to seeing which player distinguishes themselves among all others to raise the Naismith Trophy in April.”

Smith says she hasn’t thought about winning the award, but if she did win, the junior forward would be in impressive company.

Past winners include WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Rebecca Lobo, Sheryl Swoopes, Chamique Holdsclaw and Dawn Staley.

Smith averages 17.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, leading the 19-6 Utes in both categories. She leads the MWC in rebounding, and is second in scoring.

The British Columbia native is no stranger to national attention. She was named a WBCA/Kodak Honorable Mention All American after both her freshman and sophomore campaigns. This season she is in the running for both the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and the Wade Trophy.

Smith and the Utes take on archrival BYU Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

The Utes are tied with New Mexico for first place in the MWC.

[email protected]