Smalls named CAA Player of the Year

James Madison women’s basketball senior Kamiah Smalls has been named the 2019-20 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year to highlight three major awards for the Dukes as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.
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RICHMOND, Va. – James Madison women’s basketball senior Kamiah Smalls has been named the 2019-20 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year to highlight three major awards for the Dukes as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.

JMU grabbed two more major awards with senior Kayla Cooper-Williams earning CAA Defensive Player of the Year and freshman Kiki Jefferson was tabbed the CAA Rookie of the Year.

Senior Jackie Benitez and freshman Rayne Tucker earned all-conference honors as well as Benitez landed on the All-CAA Second Team and Tucker secured a spot on the CAA All-Rookie Team. JMU led the conference with five selections on the all-conference teams.

Smalls, Preseason CAA Player of the Year and All-CAA First Team member, was dominant all season as the senior finished the year averaging 18.6 points per game, third in the CAA while shooting 47.1 percent (187-of-397) from the field, good for the fourth-best percentage in conference.

Additionally, Smalls is second in free-throw percentage (87.4 percent), 10th in assists (2.9) and has posted these stats in only 30.5 minutes per game, 16th in conference. Over the season Smalls has been named CAA Player of the Week on four occasions to lead the conference.

Smalls has been named to the All-CAA First Team for the third time in her career. The only season she did not win was her freshman year when she was voted the unanimous CAA Rookie of the Year.

Cooper-Williams, also named to the All-CAA Third Team and CAA All-Defensive Team, earned her second CAA Defensive Player of the Year nod in as many seasons. This season marks her third time being named to the defensive squad and second season on the All-CAA Second Team.

The senior has been dominant on the boards all year, despite missing four games in the heart of conference play due to injury, as she finished the season third in rebounding with 9.2 per game. In the paint, Cooper-Williams controlled most of the momentum as she averaged a conference-best 3.0 blocks per game which is the ninth-best average in Division I.

Jefferson, CAA All-Rookie Team selection, was a force this year as the freshman earned her way into the starting lineup after a few games to start the season and finished the year averaging 9.8 points per game on an effective 46.4 percent (98-of-211) shooting from the field and boasts a 39.7 percent (29-of-73) clip from behind the arc.

Additionally, the freshman finished the regular season second on the team in rebounding averaging 5.6 per contest while also snatching 1.1 steals per game. Throughout the season, Jefferson was named CAA Rookie of the Week nine times which is the second-most in conference history only behind WNBA All-Star Elena Della Donne with 10.

Benitez made the All-CAA Second Team after living up to her preseason hype of being tabbed on the CAA Preseason Second Team. Benitez finished the year second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.4 points while grabbing a team-best 1.5 steals per game.

Benitez was a threat from deep all season as the senior leads the conference in three-point percentage at 32.6 percent (77-of-236) while also leading the conference in three-pointers made averaging 2.9 per game.

Tucker, CAA All-Rookie Team selection, was a force off the bench as the freshman averaged 3.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and finished the season second on the team in blocks with 1.29 per game. Tucker was named CAA Rookie of the Week on Feb. 10, after nearly posting a double-double in 10 points and nine rebounds on 62.5 percent (5-of-8) shooting.

Up Next
Second-seeded JMU will have a first-round bye in the CAA Women's Basketball Championship presented by Sonabank. The No. 2 Dukes will face off against the winner of the No. 7 Elon vs. No. 10 Hofstra matchup on March 12 at 5 p.m.