PHILADELPHIA - Freshman Alyssa Baron continues to rack up the awards after a stellar rookie season. On Friday, she became just the second University of Pennsylvania women's basketball player to be named Big 5 Rookie of the Year in addition to her selection to the All-Big 5 first team. Meanwhile, senior captain Caroline Nicholson earned Academic All-Big 5 honors.
Baron, who helped Penn to its largest single-season turnaround in program history, is the first Penn player to earn Big 5 Rookie of the Year status since Diana Caramanico became the first Quaker to earn the honor in 1997-98. In addition, the Miami, Fla. native is just the second Quaker in the last six years to be named First-Team All Big 5 (Carrier Biemer in 2008-09), and is the first Penn freshman to be selected to the first team since Caramanico.
Last month, Baron was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and was one of three players unanimously selected to the All-Ivy Rookie Team. She also garnered honorable mention All-Ivy status as well. With her 16.6 points per game, Baron became the first freshman in Ivy League history to lead the league in scoring. She was the only player in the Ivy League with more than 400 points as she finished her first season with 464. Baron also finished third in the Ivy League in minutes played (33.5 per game) and led the team in made field goals, made free throws, made threes, three-point percentage (seventh in the Ivy League) and was second in assists.
Other distinctions that Baron has received this year include seven Ivy Rookie of the Week honors (fifth-most all-time), two Ivy League Player of the Week selections, two co-Big 5 Player of the Week awards, and a co-ECAC Player of the Week pick (Feb. 8). In addition, on Feb. 5 at Harvard, Baron set the school record for a freshman with 38 points in a game. That stands as the most points ever scored by a freshman in an Ivy League contest and the second-most all-time by an Ivy freshman.
Nicholson earned the academic honors as a double major in History and German. She was also awarded Academic All-Ivy recognition this season. She started 54 of her final 56 games in a Red and Blue uniform, including every game in 2010-11. She led the team in rebounding in four games, including her first career double-double on Senior Day.
Penn finished the season 11-17 overall and 5-9 in the Ivy League. It was a nine-win improvement over the 2009-10 campaign, breaking the program record for the largest single-season turnaround in school history.