The national player of the year conversation has once again become one of the hottest topics in women's college basketball. A few additional contenders emerged for a time in the 2022-23 season, but it seems to have settled into the same debate as last year: Iowa's Caitlin Clark or South Carolina's Aliyah Boston.
But it's hardly the only player of the year debate. While Boston is trying to repeat as the national winner, she already has been named SEC player of the year for the second consecutive season. Same goes for Clark in the Big Ten, Elizabeth Kitley in the ACC and Sam Breen in the Atlantic 10. And in the Pac-12 on Tuesday, Utah's Alissa Pili was named the winner for the league's top individual honor.
As Champ Week dawns, more awards will be announced officially. We take a look at which players are the favorites in each conference (or why we would have cast a vote for Boston, Breen, Clark, Kitley and Pili if we had a ballot) and which players offer the most competition. Let this serve as a cheat sheet to the top honor in every league around the country -- and players to keep an eye on should their teams advance to the NCAA tournament.
Navigate to each league:
American | America East | ACC | Atlantic Sun | A-10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big Sky | Big South | Big Ten | Big West | CAA | C-USA | Horizon | Ivy | MAAC | MAC | MEAC | MVC | MW | NEC | OVC | Pac-12 | Patriot | SEC | SoCon | Southland | SWAC | Summit | Sun Belt | WCC | WAC
American Athletic Conference
Third in the country in rebounding and double-doubles, and shooting 60.2% from the field, Mendjiadeu has gone from solid contributor to a dominant force in her redshirt senior season. Her 34-point, 17-rebound performance against Ohio State stands out as one of the best games for a mid-major player against a Power 5 opponent all season.
Top competition: Elena Tsineke, 5-9, G, South Florida Bulls
The award could go either way in the AAC, but it isn't leaving Tampa. Tsineke, the preseason favorite, improved her scoring and shooting percentage from a year ago and was second in the conference in both.
Amid an injury-riddled season, the Black Bears found their next star. After averaging 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds, as a freshman, Smith took a huge leap as a sophomore to lead the conference in both categories.
Haegerstrand kept the Great Danes steady early in the season with junior star Kayla Cooper out. Back together they helped Albany earn a share of the regular-season title.
Elizabeth Kitley, 6-4, C, Virginia Tech Hokies
Kitley turned what was a close race into a second straight ACC Player of the Year trophy. In Virginia Tech's final seven games, six of which were against NCAA tournament-caliber teams, Kitley had six double-doubles (and all seven were Virginia Tech wins). Kitley is the third consecutive two-time winner following Louisville's Asia Durr (2018, 2019) and Dana Evans (2020, 2021).
The knee injury Miles suffered against Louisville on Sunday in the regular-season finale won't detract from another great season. Her dynamic point guard play propelled Notre Dame to a regular-season championship.
FGCU coach Karl Smesko handed the keys to his juggernaut ASUN program to Morehouse, and the fifth-year senior delivered. She led the nation's most prolific 3-point shooting team in 3-pointers made, scoring and assists as the Eagles racked up their 13th consecutive 25-win season.
While breaking the record for the most ASUN freshman of the week honors, Merkle is leading the league in rebounding and field goal percentage, and tops the Knights in scoring.
Sam Breen, 6-1, F, UMass Minutewomen
After winning the award last season, Breen got even better and was officially named A-10 player of the year Tuesday. She scored more (and more efficiently), averaged one more assist per game and became a better deep shooter. Breen should become UMass' all-time leading scorer sometime in the postseason and will go down as the best player in program history.
After five seasons and three schools, Dingle produced the best year of her career, leading the A-10 in scoring and steals.
Somehow Siegrist managed to top her player of the year season of a year ago. The nation's leading scorer and all-time scoring leader in the Big East, Siegrist reached at least 21 points in every game this season, and topped 30 points on 12 occasions.
In a UConn season ravaged by injury, illness and missed games, Edwards was the steadying force. She was one of just two Huskies to play in every game and is the main reason UConn is still battling for a No. 1 seed.
After four years at Oakland, Dean landed with the Hornets as a grad transfer and set career highs in points, rebounds, assists and field goal percentage. Her leadership at point guard helped Sacramento State to the best season in program history.
The Big Sky's leading scorer, Bea is a lock to earn her third first-team all-conference selection.
The preseason favorite, Williams delivered, leading the Big South in scoring and rebounding. She was also fifth in assists and second in field goal percentage, as the Runnin' Bulldogs became the first team, men or women, to go 18-0 in conference play.
Top competition: Alasia Smith, 5-10, F, Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs
When a team dominates a conference like Gardner-Webb did, it is bound to dominate the postseason awards. Smith was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding. The Runnin' Bulldogs also had the league leader in 3-point percentage (Lauren Bevis) and assists (Ki'Ari Cain).
The numbers aren't eye-popping, but Harmon's importance to the Longhorns' success can't be overstated. When she was out because of a foot injury early in the season, Texas started 1-3. With Harmon engineering the Longhorns on both ends of the floor now, they are on the verge of a Big 12 regular-season title.
Winning Big 12 player of the year is about the only accolade Joens hasn't achieved in her five-year career. She is on the verge of leading the conference in scoring for a third time but might lose out again because the Cyclones won't win the regular-season title.
Caitlin Clark buries a miraculous late 3-pointer to give the Hawkeyes a breathless 86-85 win over Indiana.
Caitlin Clark, 6-0, G, Iowa Hawkeyes
If there was any lingering doubt, Clark's 34-point, nine-rebound, nine-assist game Sunday capped by a winning 3-pointer to beat regular-season champion Indiana at the buzzer sealed a second straight Big Ten player of year nod (the league made it official Tuesday). It was a career-defining moment to cap a regular season that has been better, more productive and more efficient than last year.
Her team might have finished first, but Holmes is our runner-up in this race. Holmes could be a first-team All-American this season, averaging 22.5 points per game and shooting nearly 70% from the field.
Turner's ability as a deep shooter, one of the best in the Big West for the past four years, has also made her the league's top scorer this season heading into the final week.
After stops at James Madison and St. Bonaventure, Harris -- sister of Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris -- has found a home at Long Beach. She reached career bests in scoring, assists and shooting percentage for the first-place Beach.
Colonial Athletic Association
A steadily improving scorer each year since arriving at Drexel, Washington completely broke out in her fifth season. She went from 19.1 PPG to over 27 per contest, good for third in the country. And Washington does her scoring the old school way: a relentless pursuit of the basket. Her free throw and 2-point shot rate are among the tops in the country, and her 3-point shot rate is in the bottom third.
The Seawolves' move to the CAA has been a smooth one. They have been in the race all season, and everyone on the roster knowing their role is the chief reason. Warren's is to take and make long-distance shots -- and she has done it better than anyone in the conference.
Her scoring is down from her previous two seasons at Marshall, but Wheeler's assists, steals, 3-point percentage and field goal accuracy are all up. She was the key difference to the Lady Raiders going from second place last season to dominating CUSA from start to finish this year.
Despite the Roadrunners' struggles, it's hard to ignore that Jenkins, a transfer from USC, finished in the top 10 of seven CUSA statistical categories, including being the leader in scoring and field goal percentage.
Firmly established as the Horizon's best shooter, Leo led the league in scoring (17.9 PPG), 3-pointers per game (2.5) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.5%) for a second straight season -- and even made 91.9% of her free throws for good measure. She fell short of scoring at least 10 points in just three games all season.
The Penguins' third-place finish is what might cost Ritz, the league's best defensive player, who also averaged 17.5 points per game.
Already Columbia's all-time leader in 3-pointers and one of the best distance shooters since she arrived at Columbia, Hsu has now shot to the top of the Ivy League scoring list. More importantly, she has led the Lions to the doorstep of sharing their first Ivy League regular-season championship.
Columbia would be sharing the title with Princeton, a program used to Ivy League success. Chen is the leader of the latest wave of Tiger talent.
With improved shooting and career-high scoring, Camilion was the catalyst for the Gaels' first outright MAAC regular-season championship.
It wasn't the season Davis or the Jaspers (12-16 overall, 9-10 in MAAC) were expecting, but the preseason favorite for the award was still among the league leaders in scoring, assists and steals.
A starter for all but seven games in her four-year Toledo career, Lockett got off to slower than normal start to her senior season. Once she settled in, Lockett was the best all-around player in the MAC. Not coincidentally, Toledo surged as well, and the Rockets enter the final weekend of the regular season on the brink of a second regular-season conference title in a row.
The MAC's leading scorer, who is also third in assists, Felder has been a bright spot in a tough season in Athens.
Building on winning Most Outstanding Player at the MEAC tournament last year, Howell became a much-improved shooter and is now the conference's leading scorer.
A late-season slide might cost the Bears a chance at a second consecutive MEAC regular-season championship, but Shepherd's play wasn't the reason. She scored in double figures five times in February and is among the league leaders in points and assists.
Missouri Valley Conference
The Racers' step up in leagues (moving from the OVC to the MVC) didn't slow down Young at all. The MVC's leading scorer, Young averaged more points, rebounds and assists than she did a year ago. She should now have the distinction of winning POY in two different leagues in consecutive seasons.
If not for Young, Wells might have two POY awards herself. Instead, she will likely have to settle for second place in a new conference as well, despite ranking in the top five in the MVC in scoring, assists and 3-point percentage.
Mountain West Conference
Ranked ninth in the country in wins shares, according to HerHoopStats.com, and the Mountain West's second-leading scorer, Young, is the best player on a Lady Rebels' team that has wrapped up a second straight MWC title. This would be the second POY honor for Young, who also leads the MWC in rebounding and field goal percentage.
The Rams were looking up at UNLV in the standings all season, but Hofschild leads the MWC in scoring, is fourth in the country in assists and fifth in minutes played.
Just a freshman, Pryor might be in line for a few more of these awards. She's a game away from winning the league scoring title, is second in the league in assists and leads the country in steals.
The Knights had the best offense and defense in the NEC and are enjoying the best two-year run in program history with Wilson as the centerpiece.
Ohio Valley Conference
With Katelyn Young (Murray State) and Destinee Wells (Belmont) now in the MVC, the door opened for Washington to win the award. She took advantage by leading the OVC in scoring and hopes the path has also been cleared for the Panthers to make their first NCAA tournament appearance.
Visa problems returning from her home country of Mail in West Africa forced Kourouma to miss the Trojans' first 12 games, in which Little Rock had one of the worst offenses in the country. Once she got back on the court, Kourouma scored 17.1 points per game and the Trojans won 17 of 18 games to win the regular-season title.
Alissa Pili, 6-2, F, Utah Utes
In what might have been the closest race in the country, Pili might have clinched the award last Saturday when Utah beat Stanford to share the Pac-12 regular-season title. Her 14 points were instrumental. Pili led the conference in scoring (20.6 PPG) and field goal percentage (59.9%), made 45.8% of her 3-pointers and was the catalyst all season as Utah progressed from a good team to a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
No one in the conference contributed to her team winning more than Brink, according to HerHoopStats.com's win share numbers. Her 3.5 blocks per game are second in the country, and she led the Cardinal in scoring (14.5 PPG), rebounding (9.4 RPG) and free throw percentage (83.0%).
Once Patriot League play started, the Terriers became unbeatable. Not coincidentally, Weimar's game went to another level. The 2021 MAAC co-Rookie of the Year at Marist, the junior reached new heights in her second year in Boston with career bests in points (15.8 PPG), rebounds (10.1 RPG) and field goal percentage (60.4%).
She rebounded from an injury-plagued junior year to lead the Patriot League in scoring (20.9 PPG) by over three points per game.
Aliyah Boston, 6-4, F, South Carolina Gamecocks
The statistics (13.9 PPG, 9.7 RPG) aren't as gaudy as a year ago. Boston gave up minutes to further South Carolina's depth, but her greatness is easy to see. When the Gamecocks needed her most -- at the end of regulation against Stanford, in the second half against UConn, with defense late in the game against Ole Miss -- Boston delivered.
Reese put up almost magical numbers (23.7 PPG, 16.0 RPG, 54.9 FG%), but questions about LSU's schedule and against whom that success came pushed her behind Boston in both the SEC and national player of the year races.
In her first year with the Terriers, the sophomore transfer from USC Upstate finished in the top five in the SoCon in scoring, assists, steals and 3-point percentage. More importantly, she led Wofford to the first conference championship in program history. It doesn't hurt her candidacy that in the Terriers' final three games of the regular season (all wins), she scored 32, 23 and 25 points -- all against teams also vying for the league title.
The two-time defending SoCon tournament Most Outstanding Player, Neal-Tysor scored in double figures in all but three games. She also has a 42-point game to her credit.
Building on her 2022 freshman of the year honor, Davis got better across the board. She ranks in the top five in the Southland in scoring and rebounding and is the only player in the conference making more than half her field goal attempts.
The best defender and rebounder in the conference over the past three years, Westbrook also scored in double figures in the Islanders' first seven league games as they established themselves as front-runners for the league crown.
The Summit's player of the year in 2021, Selland, in her sixth season as a Jackrabbit, remains the best player on the best team. The Jackrabbits won the Summit League by six games, and Selland was as efficient as her team was dominant, averaging 16.1 points on just over 10 shots per game. Shooting 54.3% overall and 46.2% from 3-point range helped.
Making a huge leap from her junior season in which she averaged 6.5 PPG, Cooper led the Summit in scoring and steals and is ninth in the country in both free throws made and attempted.
Sun Belt Conference
The Dukes were picked to finish sixth in their first season in the Sun Belt. Thanks to Jefferson, they are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. She was the league's top scorer and had two 30-point games, including in a competitive loss to North Carolina.
The Eagles also surprised, winning 20 games for the first time in 20 years, and Ward finished just behind Jefferson for the scoring crown.
A double-figure scorer in all five of her seasons with the Hornets, Emmanuel saved her best for last. She's on the verge of the SWAC scoring title and has Alabama State in line for a second-place finish after a 1-8 start to the season.
On a team that has nine players 6-foot or taller, Covington runs the show for the Tigers, who have won three consecutive SWAC regular-season championships.
Jacobs is likely to walk away with two player of the year honors. Last year it was in the Sun Belt. This year Jacobs is the best in the WAC. Arguably the country's best mid-major two-way player, Jacobs is a top-five scorer and rebounder in the WAC and ranks in the top 10 in the country in steals.
Averaging a double-double, Williamson has the Thunderbirds on the verge of their first Division I postseason appearance, despite being picked sixth in the preseason WAC poll.
West Coast Conference
A role player who had started just one game in her career prior to this season, Ejim broke out as the leading scorer and rebounder on the WCC's dominant team. She finished in the conference's top six in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and blocks. Ejim produced 22 points and nine rebounds in a win against Tennessee in the Bahamas, against a much bigger Lady Vols' frontcourt. And that remains a big piece of the Zags' NCAA tournament résumé.
If only Portland had been able to beat Gonzaga in either of their two meetings, then Fowler, the WCC's top scorer and most accurate shooter, might have a better chance at winning the POY trophy.