Stuve: Joens should be one of the favorites to win 2020-21 Big 12 Player of the Year Award


Iowa State guard/forward Ashley Joens reads the court against the Texas Southern women’s basketball team at their game Nov. 7 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won 79-59.

Sam Stuve

Only three Big 12 women’s basketball players were unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selections — Big 12 Player of the Year Baylor forward Lauren Cox, Oklahoma State guard Vivian Gray and Iowa State guard/forward Ashley Joens. 

With Cox gone to the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Joens and Gray appear to be the favorites for the 2020-21 Big 12 Player of the Year.

Joens led the Big 12 in scoring with 20.5 points per game, which was also 11th in the NCAA in scoring. 

She also grabbed 10.9 rebounds per game, which was fourth best in the Big 12 and 17th in the NCAA last season. 

Her averages in scoring and rebounding in the 2019-20 season is second in Iowa State’s history, behind Bridget Carleton by 1.2 points and behind Angie Welle in rebounds by 0.4.

What may have kept Joens away from getting the Big 12 Player of the Year award is field goal percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio. 

Joens shot 41.7 percent from the field, which finished 11th in the Big 12, and she had a 0.71 assist-to-turnover ratio (55 assists and 77 turnovers).

Part of the reason for those numbers are because of how much attention defenses had on her.

With more experience under her belt heading into her junior season, a consistently healthy Madi Wise and Kristin Scott, a potential step up from All-Big 12 Freshman Team Player Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw and a solid impact from Iowa State’s incoming recruiting class (that includes Ashley’s sister, Aubrey), which is ranked tenth by ESPNW (the highest rated recruiting class in program history), Joens may be set to benefit from it, as having these things could create more opportunities for her.

In the 2019-20 season, Joens was one of ten players to make the 2020 All-Big 12 First Team. 

Four of those players have now graduated.

Joens will be one of the front-runners for the Big 12 Player of Year in the 2020-21 season.

Another front-runner will be Gray, who finished second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.3 points.

Kansas State’s redshirt sophomore Ayoka Lee is also a solid candidate for this award. She finished the 2019-20 season with 15.7 points per game, which was ninth in the Big 12, and grabbed 11.4 rebounds per game, which was third in the league, while also blocking 3.1 shots per game, which was third in the league.

TCU’s junior guard Lauren Heard, who averaged the league’s fourth-highest points per game total with 18.4 and Oklahoma’s junior guard Taylor Robertson, who averaged the league’s third-highest points per game average with 19.0, are also strong candidates as well. 

At the end of the 2019-20 season, Joens was an Associated Press (AP) Honorable Mention All-American.

Fifteen players were listed on the three AP All-American teams (five on each of the teams). Six out of those 15 players are gone and if Joens wins the Big 12 Player of the Year award for the 2020-21 season, she will very likely make one of the three AP All-American teams. 

Another award Joens will likely be in contention for is the Cheryl Miller Award. Joens was one of five finalists for the award in the 2019-20 season. 

The Cheryl Miller Award is given to the NCAA’s best small forward at the end of each season. 

A former Iowa State player, Carleton, won the Cheryl Miller Award in the 2018-2019 season. Between her freshman and sophomore years, Joens made statistical improvements. 

Joens saw an increase in points per game, 11.7 to 20.5; rebounds per game, 5.0 to 10.9; total steals from 24 to 46; and in free-throw percentage from 70.1 to 80.6 percent.

While it isn’t likely Joens will have the same statistical progression in her junior season, a similar season or improvement from her sophomore season may occur in her upcoming junior season. 

If she continues to grow she’ll most certainly be a Big 12 Player of the Year contender and one of the select players in the NCAA to be up for strong consideration for an AP All-American team in the 2020-21 season.

With her statistics from a season ago, Joens should be expected to be one of the preseason favorites for the Big 12 Player of the Year Award and could see her name on some national award watch lists, which are usually announced in October.