Howard, Boston lead AP women's basketball All-America team

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FILE - These are 2019 and 2020 file photos showing, from left: Aliyah Boston, Dana Evans, Rhyne Howard, Aari McDonald and Michaela Onyenwere. Rhyne Howard is rewriting the record books at Kentucky and she's only a junior. Now the Wildcats star is the first player from the school to be honored as a preseason All-American by The Associated Press. Howard was a unanimous choice from the 30-member national media panel Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. She was joined on the five-person team by sophomore Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, who was also a unanimous pick. Seniors Dana Evans of Louisville, Aari McDonald of Arizona and Michaela Onyenwere of UCLA. (AP Photo/File)

Rhyne Howard is rewriting the record books at Kentucky and she is only a junior.

Now the Wildcats star is the first player from the school to be honored as a preseason All-American by The Associated Press. Howard was a unanimous choice by the 30-member national media panel on the team released Thursday.

She was joined on the five-player team by sophomore Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, who was also a unanimous pick. Seniors Dana Evans of Louisville, Aari McDonald of Arizona and Michaela Onyenwere of UCLA round out the squad.

Howard averaged 23.4 points last season and became the first player in school history to score 25 or more points in five straight games .

“Rhyne Howard was one of the best players in the nation last season and after seeing how hard she has worked this offseason and preseason, I have no doubt she’ll be in those same conversations this year," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "What makes Rhyne so special is how she lifts everyone around her up. She is an exceptional person and player and very deserving to be Kentucky’s first AP Preseason All-American. I cannot wait to see what she has in store this season.”

As a freshman, Boston helped the Gamecocks win the SEC and earn their first No. 1 ranking in the final poll of the season. Expectations are high this year as well for South Carolina, which this week earned its first No. 1 preseason ranking in the AP Top 25.

Boston, who averaged 12.5 points and 9.4 rebounds last season, spent a lot of her time during the pandemic working on her shot.

“I was skeptical at the beginning, but we got here and she’s been making them ever since,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “Aliyah’s a great player. I can say that I can see it every day. You see great players get better and how they did it. It’s unbelievable to me. Unbelievable how much better she’s gotten.”