Context for the greatness of Kristine Anigwe.
The phrase “records are made to be broken” has come to be used so much that it almost sounds trite. But this season, several players are having historic seasons, including the nation’s leading scorer, Megan Gustafson of Iowa, and triple-double machines Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon and Chastadie Barrs of Lamar. Teams like North Carolina State and Utah got off to program-best starts this season, and Louisville beat UConn last week for the first time since 1993.
Amid all of that, out west, the nation’s leading rebounder is quietly making her own history. She doesn’t play for any of the five Pac-12 teams that are currently ranked in the AP top 25 and her games often end near midnight on the East Coast, so she doesn’t always get her due nationally. But senior Kristine Anigwe is carrying a huge load for a California team that started the season 9-0 and beat then-No. 8 Stanford just last week.
Anigwe is the only player in the nation to post a double-double in every game this season. When you add in her double-double in her final game of last season, that’s 22 straight double-doubles and counting, which is the fifth-longest streak in NCAA history. She is averaging 22.4 points and 15.6 rebounds per game and has posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category this season. (Keep in mind that Anigwe has been a WBCA All-America Honorable Mention and a first-team All-Pac 12 pick in each of her three full seasons at Cal, so her stats were already off the charts entering her senior season.)
According to Her Hoop Stats, Anigwe ranks first nationally in total rebounds per game and defensive rebounds per game, second in offensive rebounds per game, third in free throw attempts per game, and seventh in points per game. She also ranks among the nation’s best in usage rate, field goal percentage, blocks per game, and minutes per game. As a result, High Post Hoops’ Howard Megdal has projected Anigwe to be a first-round pick in his latest WNBA mock draft.
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Anigwe’s stats are certainly impressive individually, but in combination, they make her production truly historic. This season, she is the only Power 5 player to average even 10 rebounds per game while also using at least one-third of her team’s possessions. (Usage rate measures the percentage of a team’s offensive possessions that end with a given player shooting the ball, going to the free throw line, or turning the ball over.) In the past three full seasons, only two other players had this combination of starting a possession by securing a defensive rebound, finishing a possession with a shot or free throw, and extending a possession with an offensive rebound—and neither of them collected nearly as many rebounds as Anigwe.
Here are the players, from all conferences, who have had at least 10 rebounds per game and a 33.3% usage rate since 2015-16:
No player recorded this combination of usage rate and rebounding in the 2015-16 season, and only one player did in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. (Both of those players ended up being first-round WNBA Draft picks.) This season, five players are on pace to do so, which is noteworthy in itself, but Anigwe is head-and-shoulders above the field in rebounds per game, grabbing a full three more per game than the next-closest player, Army’s Madison Hovren.
It’s hard to overstate how elite this combination is. This season, less than one percent of all Division I players have a usage rate of 33.3% or above, and only 1.2 percent of players are averaging 10 or more rebounds per game. Here’s what that looks like in graphical form:
If this isn’t enough history for you, just take a look at the Cal and Pac-12 record books. After scoring 45 points in her team’s two games against Stanford last week, Anigwe enters Friday’s showdown with Ionescu and No. 3 Oregon tied for the top spot on Cal’s all-time scoring list. Her 2,320 career points to date rank seventh all-time in the Pac-12, only 29 points shy of sixth place. She already holds the Cal record for career free throws made and is just 20 rebounds and nine blocks away from tying the Cal career records in those categories.
By any metric, it’s clear that Kristine Anigwe is one of the nation’s premier players this season. In combination, though, these numbers elevate Anigwe to one of the best the Pac-12 has ever seen. Anigwe excels at starting, ending, and extending possessions; in the process, she is breaking records and, Cal hopes, NCAA Tournament brackets.
(All statistics are courtesy of Her Hoop Stats and the 2018-19 California Women’s Basketball Media Center and represent games through February 5.)