Alyssa Thomas, reigning ACC Player of the Year, is the pre-season choice to win the award for a third consecutive season. Should Thomas finish the season by winning this award, she will become the first player in Maryland history to win three consecutive Player of the Year Awards and the first in the ACC since Alana Beard in 2002-2004. Beard, by the way also won the Naismith Award as National Player of the Year in her senior season.
Thomas is coming off a season in which she recorded two triple doubles becoming the only player in Maryland basketball history - men's or women's to twice achieve that feat. Even more impressively, as a junior she led the ACC in scoring, rebounds, and assists becoming the only player to finish in the top thirty-five in all three categories in the NCAA. Her 20 double-doubles tied he for eleventh nationally. She is the only player in NCAA or WNBA history to average over eighteen points (18.8), ten rebounds (10.3) and five assists (5.3) per game for an entire season.
Thomas has scored in double figures in 86 of her 96 games as a Terrapin and currently stands in sixth place on Maryland's all time scoring list. She needs 309 points and 116 rebounds to join Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman as the only Terps with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for their career.
It's understandable why coach Brenda Frese calls Thomas "a once in a lifetime player to coach." With the spate of injuries that shortened Maryland's roster last season Thomas became a point forward who was often asked to handle the ball and get the Terps into their offense while maintaining her scoring and rebounding levels. With a deep and healthy backcourt for the upcoming season, Thomas should see a drop off in assists but the graduation of Tianna Hawkins may push her rebound numbers even higher.
And lest you think Alyssa is only a machine on the offensive end of the court, she barely missed cracking the top ten in the ACC in steals averaging nearly two per game. And few of those who saw it can forget this:
The only thing that has eluded Thomas in her magnificent Maryland career is a Final Four appearance and a National Championship. Given the senior's competiveness and will to win, this may be the year.