It isn’t exactly how she hoped it would all play out, but Iowa women’s basketball player Megan Gustafson is spending the weekend at the Women’s Final Four.
She’ll attend a number of award news conferences and banquets in Tampa in upcoming days, potentially adding to a collection of honors that grew Thursday when the senior post player was named by the Associated Press as its national player of the year. She also won the Lisa Leslie Award, presented to the game’s top center, and the Senior CLASS Award.
Gustafson is the first Big Ten player ever to win the AP honor, recognizing her as the college game's top player.
The Senior CLASS Award is presented annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in women’s basketball, and its electors are encouraged to look not only at on-court success but also to have notable achievements in four areas — classroom, community, character and competition.
Gustafson is the second Hawkeye in five years to win the honor, which was presented to Samantha Logic in 2015.
"It’s one thing to be recognized for your athletic abilities, but it’s a completely different level when you’re able to be recognized for the kind of person you are and how you’ve been able to impact others in a positive way," Gustafson said in a statement.
"The University of Iowa has given me the opportunity to impact people. Whether it is going to hospitals and visiting with children, helping out in the community, whatever it is Iowa has given me an amazing platform to use to make a positive impact on those around me."
A business major at Iowa, Gustafson has been involved away from the court in visiting a number of Iowa City area elementary schools and joining teammates in frequent visits to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and the Iowa City Ronald McDonald House.
The two-time Big Ten player of the year became the Hawkeyes’ career scoring and rebounding leader while leading Iowa to its first Big Ten tournament championship since 2001 and its first Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tourney since 1993 during a season which ended with an 85-53 loss to Baylor on Monday.
The 6-foot-3 post player from Port Wing, Wisconsin, led the nation in five categories this season, including averaging 27.9 points while shooting 69.6 percent from the field.
Gustafson is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, the John R. Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy, all to be presented to the top college women’s basketball player.
She was previously named by espnW as its national player of the year and was earlier named as Iowa’s first-ever first-team Associated Press All-American in addition to receiving first-team all-American honors from the United States Basketball Writers Association and espnW.