New York Liberty forward Michaela Onyenwere named WNBA's 2021 Rookie of the Year

ByKelly Cohen ESPN logo
Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Michaela Onyenwere helped the New York Liberty clinch their first WNBA playoff berth since 2017, and her efforts in doing so did not go unnoticed. The 6-foot-0 forward has been named the league's 2021 Rookie of the Year on Tuesday.

She is the first Liberty player to win the award, receiving 47 votes from a national panel of 49 sportswriters and broadcasters. Liberty teammate DiDi Richards received one vote, as did Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald.

Onyenwere's first-year stats were impressive: She led all WNBA rookies with 8.6 points per game -- the third Rookie of the Year to average single digits, after Temeka Johnson (2005, 9.3 PPG) and Armintie Price (2007, 7.9 PPG) -- 91 field goals and 37 3-pointers, and was second among the group with 94 rebounds.

She started in all but three of the 32 regular-season games she played, the only rookie to average at least 20 minutes per game (22.5).

Onyenwere, 22, also swept the WNBA Rookie of the Month award for the entire 2021 season and was unanimously voted the AP WNBA Rookie of the Year.

The No. 6 pick in the draft this year, Onyenwere played four seasons at UCLA, where she was the fourth-leading scorer in program history (1,888 points). She also led UCLA to a Sweet 16 appearance in her senior year.