NaLyssa Smith

NaLyssa Smith crowned season 2 Basketball Champion

Smith posts a record 50 points to close out the season.

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: MK Ridgway
Savanna Collins
Mar 25, 2023

Five weeks comprised of 30 games are in the books and the 2023 Basketball Champion has been crowned.

NaLyssa Smith finished her season attaining the status she’s been chasing all season: golden.

Smith entered AU Hoops as one of the most anticipated athletes of the season and for good reason. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA draft concluded her rookie year with a record-setting performance, posting 50 points in a single-game, and the 2023 Athletes Unlimited Basketball Championship.

In Smith’s dominance in the league, she broke the record for the most rebounds in a season with 184 in 2023 — 54 from offensive rebounds and 130 defensive rebounds. She also broke the record for double-doubles in a season (12) and most leaderboard points in a single-game (863). She ranked second in free throws made (86) and points scored (363), and finished with 6,811 points on the leaderboard.

“Every team I was on, they were so supportive of me. They helped me achieve every goal I wanted this year … I’ve been in second in everything… just winning this it means everything,” Smith said.

“It feels great. I’m enjoying this moment, you know? I worked so hard for this. I put in so much.”

Second Place: Naz Hillmon

Naz Hillmon rounds out her rookie year as a pro with the second place medal. In the final week of competition, she accomplished one of the toughest feats at AU, going 3-0. She picked up eight quarter wins, including three in her final game of the season to propel herself into the No. 1 spot ahead of Team Smith vs. Team Sims. She concludes the season with an 8-4 record in the captain’s chair.

Her season is marked by her impressive ability to lead teams as one of the youngest athletes and despite the league’s fast pace. She totaled 6,660 leaderboard points and dominated two of the point system categories.

She is the winningest captain and medalist of the year with 3,300 win points acquired from quarters (33) and games (11). Hillmon also led the league in MVP points with 540 MVP points — she was voted the honors nine times.

Hillmon shot an efficient 49.5% from the field, ranked second in rebounds (153), posted 269 points and 11 double-doubles.

Third Place: Odyssey Sims

Odyssey Sims finished her season in the No. 3 spot. Sims needed to leave the final game of the season in the second quarter due to injury, which hindered her Championship goals.

She totaled 6,383 points and led the league in assists (106), minutes player (560), points scored (392), free throws made (89). She became the first player in Athletes Unlimited Basketball history to score 700 career points.

Sims stands as the first Athletes Unlimited Basketball player to serve as a captain in all five weeks during a season and finishes with a (8-7) record leading her teams this year.

She produced double figures in 28-of-30 career Athletes Unlimited appearances, including every game this season except the final game of the season.

Fourth Place: Allisha Gray

“Gold Medal Lish” will have another piece of hardware to add to her collection after playing her way into fourth place on the final leaderboard. In Allisha Gray’s last game of the season on Team Hillmon, she moved up two spots to earn the medal.

Gray was the confidant and first pick at the draft for Atlanta Dream teammate Naz Hillmon all season. The pair spent four weeks together on the same team. Gray logged 5,748 total points on the leaderboard. She had an impressive 46.3 field goal percentage and shot 91.8% from the free throw line on 73 trips to the stripe.

Defensive Player of the Year: Lexie Hull

Earlier this weekend, Athletes Unlimited announced the 2023 All-Defensive Team, as voted on by players and the facilitators, comprised of: Ty Young, Jordin Canada, Natasha Cloud, Allisha Gray and Lexie Hull.

From the group, Hull was voted the Defensive Player of the Year.

As play-by-play commentator Cindy Brunson said, “She plays defense like her ability to breath depends on it.” She tied for first in steals with 29 on the season. Hull added 97 caroms and 12 blocks. She’s hailed for her vocality on the court and ability to stay on assignment despite the screen.

Teammate of the Year: CC Andrews

Receiving the 2023 Teammate of the Year Award presented by weThink is CC Andrews.

This award was voted on by the players and goes to an individual who exemplifies the most growth-minded awareness of the attributes of good character, integrity and grit. Andrews also won the Sportsmanship Award in the inaugural season.

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