An award that has rarely gone to the Hawaii women’s basketball team was twice as nice yesterday for the Rainbow Wahine.
UH forward Kamilah Jackson and wing Shawna Kuehu were named to the Western Athletic Conference all-freshman team yesterday, becoming just the second and third UH players to earn that honor. The only previous Wahine to get it was Janevia Taylor in 2003-04.
» Who: No. 7 Hawaii (11-18) vs. No. 6 New Mexico State (13-17)
» When: Tomorrow, 6:30 p.m. Hawaii time
» Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
» TV: None
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Though no UH players were named to the All-WAC first or second teams, it was still a positive for UH (11-18), which started WAC play 0-8 but won five of eight games during the second half of league play. Jackson and Kuehu were a big reason why UH — which faced fears of missing the WAC tournament as the ninth-place team — instead qualified as the seventh seed to face sixth-seeded New Mexico State (13-17) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in Las Vegas.
The 5-foot-11 Jackson, of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (Calif.), averaged team bests of 11.9 points and 12.0 boards. She established herself as the fourth-leading rebounder in the country through an uncanny knack for positioning down low. With 12 double-doubles and 323 total rebounds, she broke Judy Mosley’s UH freshman records in those categories. Jackson also had the game-winning free throws with 0.3 seconds left in overtime against Utah State on senior night, earning her WAC player of the week honors.
The quiet Jackson was understated about it all, but got some encouragement from her family.
"They were definitely proud, and plus it’s not just one player from Hawaii, but two," she said. "So that was just a great feeling for both of us."
Kuehu, a 5-10 Punahou graduate, was an all-around contributor for the Rainbow Wahine, averaging 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. She missed the last three games of the regular season with concussion-like symptoms, but said yesterday she was feeling healthy for the game against NMSU.
Kuehu’s initial freshman season in 2009-10 was cut short by an ACL injury, but she rehabbed back to form and was granted a medical hardship for an extra year.
"I guess you could say it does reward hard work and the time that I actually put into it, for achieving this award," Kuehu said. "It’s an honor, but I wouldn’t have been able to get it without my team. If it wasn’t for them supporting me and the coaches pushing me and always being there, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today."
Louisiana Tech senior forward Adrienne Johnson was named the WAC player of the year and Utah State coach Raegan Pebley was the WAC coach of the year.
The All-WAC first team was Johnson, Nevada guard Tahnee Robinson, Nevada forward Shavon Moore, Fresno State guard Jaleesa Ross and Utah State forward Ashlee Brown.