Nicky Anosike didn’t know the scope of the NCAA women-of-the-year award. So in true honor-student fashion, she did her homework.
“I didn’t know how much this award entailed until I researched it,’’ the former University of Tennessee women’s basketball player said. “That’s when it hit me that I had done a pretty special thing.”
Anosike became the 18th women’s athlete to receive the award, which was announced Sunday night in Indianapolis.
The award, given to an athlete who has completed her eligibility, factors in academic achievement, service and leadership activities as well as athletics.
Anosike referred to it as “an all-around award.”
“I think the biggest thing is being at a school like the University of Tennessee that is so demanding athletically,’’ Anosike said. “And carrying the GPA that I had probably put me over the top.”
Anosike, who made the WNBA all-rookie team last month after her first season with the Minnesota Lynx, is playing overseas in Israel and was unable to attend the award ceremony.
Her mother, Ngozi, accepted the award on her behalf. Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt also was in attendance.
“In a way, I’m upset I couldn’t be there,’’ Anosike said. “In another way I’m happy that the people responsible for me getting this award, can accept on my behalf.”
Anosike, who was one of nine finalists, is the third Lady Vol to be honored. Former swimmer Catherine Byrne was the recipient in 1992 and diver Lauryn McCalley in 2005.
Anosike also was the second basketball player to be honored. Former Connecticut All-American Rebecca Lobo received the award in 1995.
“Because I’m only the second basketball player to win makes it extra special,’’ Anosike said.
The 6-foot-4 post player, a two-time Final Four all-tournament honoree, was an academic All-American who graduated in May with a triple major in political science, legal studies and sociology. She was a Boyd McWhorter postgraduate scholarship winner.
Anosike was a member of the UT student-athlete advisory committee and volunteered at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
The finalists submitted personal statements on their behalf. Anosike wrote:
“I was not the superstar. I did the unglamorous work that wins games and brings success in life. Some of our most effective leaders are not in the spotlight but lead by example through hard work and dedication. This assertion reflects who I am and what I hope to become.”
When considering the scope of Anosike’s accomplishments at Tennessee, Summitt conceded, “I don’t think I knew how special she would be. I don’t think I had any idea.”
Summitt’s lasting impression of Anosike is of someone who meant business — regardless of the enterprise.
“She’s very serious about what she does,’’ Summitt said. “If it’s playing basketball or going into the academic arena and wanting to be the best there, too.”