Crystal Dangerfield is in a class by herself.
Two days after she was named Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, the former UConn Husky won the WNBA’s version of the award as well. Dangerfield — drafted 16th overall by the Minnesota Lynx — is the first second-round pick to ever take home the honor.
Dangerfield received 44 of 47 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Atlanta’s Chennedy Carter received two votes and Dallas’ Satou Sabally one.
She’s the sixth former Husky to win the award and the second in as many years following Lynx teammate Napheesa Collier. The others: Diana Taurasi (2004), Tina Charles (2010), Maya Moore (2011) and Breanna Stewart (2016).
“It just means a lot. This draft class was great,” said Dangerfield, the third point guard taken behind No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon and No. 7 Tyasha Harris of South Carolina. “It’s just hard work paid off. That’s what I’ve always tried to do, is just be consistent, conduct myself as a pro.”
After starting the season on the bench, Dangerfield quickly worked her way into a prominent role in Minnesota’s backcourt. The 5-foot-5 point guard ranked 11th in the WNBA and second among rookies in scoring (16.2 PPG) while starting 19 of 21 regular-season games. She also averaged 3.6 assists.
With her help, the Lynx went 14-8 and earned a bye to the second round of the WNBA playoffs. They were scheduled to play the Phoenix Mercury in a single-elimination game Thursday night in Florida.
“I knew once I stepped onto the court, I’d be able to show what I could do,” Dangerfield said.
Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press
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“I did not know what was going on,” Dangerfield said. “I thought she was just coming to congratulate me, and then she started talking about the rookies. That’s when it kind of clicked in my head. OK, that’s what she’s here for.”
Other league winners announced Thursday include Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson (Most Valuable Player) and Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve (Coach of the Year).
Among rookies, Dangerfield was first in free-throw percentage (92.2), second in minutes (30.0) and assists, tied for fourth in steals (0.86) and fifth in field-goal percentage (47.1).
Dangerfield was among the most accomplished point guards to play for Geno Auriemma’s Huskies. A three-year starter, she ranks fifth in program history with 599 assists.
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