Baylor sees big week in athletic achievements, events

The Lady Bears celebrate their eighth straight Big 12 regular season title Monday after defeating West Virginia. Baylor was honored by the conference with several major awards on Wednesday. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Max Calderone | Sports Writer

A long list of Baylor athletic achievements was announced on Wednesday, including Big 12 Conference Awards in women’s basketball, tryouts for U.S. National Teams in volleyball and qualifiers for the NCAA Indoor Championships in track and field.

Beginning with women’s basketball, head coach Kim Mulkey, who was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the sixth time in her illustrious career. She was the unanimous winner, having received votes from all nine other Big 12 head coaches.

Mulkey led the Lady Bears to a perfect 18-0 record in conference play this season, clinching the top seed in the women’s Big 12 postseason conference tournament. In her time at Baylor, she has won two national championships (2005, 2012). She last won conference coach of the year honors in 2015.

Mulkey is one of 10 national semifinalists who are up for the 2018 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award. She is also a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2018 Class.

Junior center Kalani Brown was named the Big 12 Conference’s Player of the Year thanks to her impressive stat line of 19.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. This is Brown’s first career postseason award and she remains in consideration for the Naismith Trophy, John R. Wooden Award and Wade Trophy, all national player of the year awards. She is also one of 10 finalists for the Lisa Leslie Award, which honors the nation’s best center.

Sophomore forward Lauren Cox earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors for her physical play in the post. She is averaging 2.5 blocks per game and recorded nine blocks in Baylor’s game against Iowa State, the most recorded by a Big 12 player in a single game so far this season. She won last year’s Big 12 Sixth Man Award.

Brown, Cox and senior guard Kristy Wallace were named to the All-Big 12 First Team, as voted on by the Big 12 Conference coaches. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players. Brown and Wallace were unanimous selections.

Wallace averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 assists and five rebounds per game before a knee injury knocked her out of the season finale against West Virginia on Monday. An update on her condition has not yet been released.

Senior forward Dekeiya Cohen also earned an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention for her work this season, averaging 12.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Alexis Morris was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team, thanks to her stat line average of 8.3 points and 3.1 assists per game.

On Wednesday, the school announced that five Baylor volleyball players will be at the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts this weekend in Colorado Springs. Sophomore outside hitter Yossiana Pressley, redshirt junior middle hitter Shelly Fanning, sophomore setter Hannah Lockin, freshman libero Shanel Bramschreiber and senior outside hitter Aniah Philo, who will compete as a libero, will be the Bears in attendance.

Head coach Ryan McGuyre said he is excited about the opportunity his players will have.

“We have five candidates that I strongly feel are worthy and will represent Baylor well at tryouts,” McGuyre said. “I am looking forward to hearing the stories of their experience as they compete with other top-level athletes.”

Players will look to earn a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Team and U.S. Collegiate National Team programs. Baylor has had three selections in the last four years to the latter.

The NCAA Track and Field Committee announced Wednesday that Baylor’s Wil London and Kiana Horton were selected to compete at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. Both juniors will head to College Station March 9-10 to compete in the 400 meters.

Junior Will London carries the baton for the Bears at the Big 12 Indoor Championships.
Photo Credit: Baylor Athletics

London’s time of 45.95 seconds, set on Feb. 10, was the seventh-fastest all-time indoor time posted by a Baylor male athlete. Horton’s 52.60 mark is the third-best in program history for the women.

ESPN3 will live stream the meet beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 9. London will run at 6:25 p.m., and Horton will take her mark at 6:40 p.m., with finals set for Saturday, March 10 if either runner advances.