Former Calera star repeats as WAC Player of the Year

Louisiana Tech University senior forward Shanavia Dowdell was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and all-league first team March 7 by a vote of the league coaches.

The former Calera High School girls’ basketball star and Miss Basketball in Alabama was also named to the league’s all-defensive team.

Dowdell becomes the fourth Louisiana Tech player to ever repeat as conference player of the year, joining Venus Lacy (1989, 1990 American South), Vickie Johnson (1995, 1996 Sun Belt) and Cheryl Ford (2002, 2003 WAC).

She becomes the fifth player in WAC history to earn the award in back-to-back seasons. She led the WAC in scoring (17.9) and rebounding (12.4), and ranked second in field goal percentage (.520) and fifth in blocks (1.29). She also tallied a WAC-best 20 double-doubles, including 14 of 16 conference games, and was named WAC Player of the Week four times.

“Shanavia has put in a lot of hard work,” said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. “This was nothing that she planned. She has focused on team goals all season and her performance within our team concept earned her this honor. She truly deserves it. It’s nice when (the other coaches in the league) acknowledge all of that hard work.”

Despite being double and triple teamed on a nightly basis, Dowdell averaged 18.1 points, 13.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in the 16 league games while recording 14 double doubles, including 13 straight at one point of the season. The 13.7 rebounds per game is the second most in WAC history behind only Ford’s 14.0 recorded in 2003.

“I’m honored,” Dowdell said. “This award belongs to my teammates and my coaches as much as it does to me. I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without them. There are so many great players in this league and to be considered by the coaches to be the best is really an honor.

“As excited as I am about it, this was not my goal for this year. My goal is to win the WAC and play in the NCAA Tournament. That’s what my team and I are focused on heading into this week. It won’t be easy.”

Dowdell, who became the WAC’s all-time leading rebounder March 6 in a loss to Boise State, had six 20-plus point performances in league games and nine games of 13 or more rebounds. She became only the third player in Division I basketball this year to record a 30-plus point, 20-plus rebound game in a road game at Nevada in January.

Dowdell becomes Louisiana Tech’s seventh WAC Player of the Year recipient in nine years of affiliation with the league. She is the 18th conference player of the year recipient in the last 23 years of conference affiliation.