Women's college basketball 2022-23: Ranking the top 25 players in the country

Azzi Fudd, Aliyah Boston & Caitlin Clark ESPN

The top individual award in women's college basketball is officially a three-player race. But should South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, Iowa's Caitlin Clark or UConn's Azzi Fudd be No. 1 overall?

The trio has emerged as the front-runners for national player of the year, but which one is having the best season? That was among the biggest debates as a panel of 18 broadcasters, analysts and writers who cover the sport for ESPN voted on our updated rankings of the top 25 players in the country for the 2022-23 season.

Seven weeks after our preseason player rankings, we cast ballots again, focusing on the performances we've seen and the best players at this point in the season. Boston was last season's consensus national player of the year and led ESPN's preseason list, and she remains on top in version 2.0 -- fueled by 11 first-place votes -- with her undefeated Gamecocks ranked No. 1. But the stellar play of Clark (five first-place votes) and Fudd (two) made it a healthy debate.

The most difficult thing to determine was how to take players' injuries into account. Our panel voted independently, with some giving more weight to a player being out than others. In general, a player whose return date has been described as "indefinite" -- such as Indiana guard Grace Berger -- got fewer votes than those who have recently come back or whose return has a more definitive timetable, such as Fudd.

Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon might have been the single hardest player to evaluate. She is a clear choice to make the top 25 when healthy, as she was in the preseason. But she has been limited to five games with a lower-leg injury and has been listed as "week-to-week." Still with the undefeated Buckeyes' success, she made the list, giving Ohio State two representatives among our group. South Carolina, Stanford and UConn also have two players each in the top 25.

A player such as the Texas' Rori Harmon was on the preseason list. But after being limited to six games due to injury and the Longhorns' difficult start to the season, she didn't make the top 25 this time. We'll revisit the list again before the postseason, and more changes are likely. This updated list features seven players who weren't included in the preseason ranking.

ESPN's Katie Barnes, Charlie Creme, Aja Ellison, Kelly Gramlich, Dan Hughes, Sean Hurd, Andrea Lloyd, Rebecca Lobo, Muffet McGraw, Alexa Philippou, Roy Philpott, Steffi Sorensen, Mike Thibault, Christy Thomaskutty, M.A. Voepel, Holly Warlick, Brooke Weisbrod and Stephanie White submitted ballots.

Aliyah Boston gets up for the rejection

Aliyah Boston gets up for the rejection

1. Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Forward | 6-foot-5 | senior | Previous ranking: 1
2022-23 stats:
12.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 61.0 FG%

The numbers are down from last season largely because Boston hasn't played as many minutes in South Carolina's less competitive games. She is still one of women's college basketball's most imposing presences and best defensive players, if not the best (she's currently third in defensive win shares, according to HerHoopStats.com). It's tough to dethrone the champ and last year's Player of the Year has shown nothing to indicate she is ready to give up the crown. Boston, who has seven double-doubles in 11 games, is the best player on the nation's best team and that goes a long way too. (Boston received 11 first-place votes.) -- Creme

Olivia Miles makes a nice pass for the Notre Dame bucket

Olivia Miles makes a nice pass for the Notre Dame bucket

2.Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Guard | 6-foot-0 | junior | Previous ranking: 2
2022-23 stats:
27.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.1 APG

Clark leads the 10-3 Hawkeyes in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She scored 20 points in Wednesday's victory over Dartmouth, giving her 2,013 for her career. That came in her 75th college game, tying her with Delaware's Elena Delle Donne for the fastest Division I women's players this century to hit the 2,000-point mark. Against NC State this season, she had 45 points, and against Wisconsin, had the seventh triple-double of her Iowa career. Clark continues to be the nation's most exciting player to watch offensively while also being improved on defense. (Clark received five first-place votes.) -- Voepel

3. Azzi Fudd, UConn

Guard | 5-foot-11 | sophomore | Previous ranking: 13
2022-23 stats:
20.6 PPG, 2.7 APG, 42.6% 3PT

Before Fudd suffered an injury to her right knee in the first quarter against Notre Dame on Dec. 4, she was having one of the best seasons in the country. She rebounded from an injury-riddled freshman campaign to look like the top player in her class. What makes Fudd so good is the simple fact she makes so many shots. She's shooting nearly 43% from 3-point range and is on pace for a 50-40-90 season. When looking just at her isolated 2-point shooting, the efficiency is off the charts at 62%. Fudd was once described by renowned NBA skills trainer Chris Brickley as an "elite shot-maker," and she's proving that this season. Fudd's injury timetable is three to six weeks, which would put her return between late December to mid-January. (Fudd received two first-place votes.) -- Barnes

Haley Jones gets the sweet reverse lay-in to drop for Stanford

Haley Jones gets the lay-in to fall vs. Creighton Bluejays

4. Olivia Miles, Notre Dame

Guard | 5-foot-10 | sophomore | Previous ranking: 8
2022-23 stats:
15.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.6 APG

Miles has unequivocally staked her claim as one of the best talents in college basketball. She's a do-it-all player for Notre Dame, with an ability to impact a contest through multiple facets of the game. She is one of just two players in the country averaging at least 15 points, 7.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. The conductor for the No. 5 Fighting Irish, Miles plays with a style and a sense of ease that forces observers to hang onto her every dribble. On Dec. 10, she notched her third career triple-double, making her Notre Dame's all-time program leader. -- Hurd

5. Cameron Brink, Stanford

Forward | 6-foot-4 | junior | Previous ranking: 6
2022-23 stats:
13.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 60 FG%, 3.2 BPG

Brink's ability to stay on the floor in big matchups remains a concern, but her talent was on full display as recently as Sunday, when her 21 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks against Tennessee helped the Cardinal overcome a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Lady Vols. She's only playing 20 minutes per game -- in part due to Stanford's mostly fairly unimpressive nonconference schedule, in part due to foul trouble -- but when she's on the court, there's zero doubt she's one of the most important and impactful players in the country, one predominantly capable of helping Stanford win a second national title in three years. -- Philippou

Mackenzie Holmes makes a nice move for the layup

Mackenzie Holmes makes a nice move for the layup

6. Haley Jones, Stanford

Guard | 6-foot-1 | senior | Previous ranking: 3
2022-23 stats:
11.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.5 APG

Don't let the lack of eye-popping stats distract you: Jones is one of the most versatile players in women's college basketball. Even on an incredibly balanced Stanford team, Jones' versatility stands out. She can play nearly any position on the floor, making her a tough matchup. Jones has the ability to do whatever the Cardinal require in a given moment: get a bucket, snag a rebound, handle the ball, make a beautiful long bounce pass in transition. She's the Swiss Army knife of college basketball. -- Barnes

7. Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech

Forward | 6-foot-6 | senior | Previous ranking: 5
2022-23 stats:
19.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.4 BPG

Kitley is the cornerstone of a Virginia Tech team on pace to have one of its best seasons in program history. Following a junior season in which she was named ACC Player of the Year, Kitley remains a prominent frontcourt force for the Hokies. She is the only player in the country averaging at least 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Her nine double-doubles through 12 games is tied for fourth in Division I. As Virginia Tech delves deeper into a tough ACC slate, consistency from its senior star will be key to the team's success. -- Hurd

8. Angel Reese, LSU

Forward | 6-foot-3| sophomore | Previous ranking: 7
2022-23 stats:
24.6 PPG, 14.7 RPG, 63.5 FG%

Reese has been dominant through LSU's first 12 games. She ranks first in the nation in rebounds per game, double-doubles and free throw attempts and sixth in points per game. One of the many proficiencies in Reese's game is her activity around the rim, particularly her ability to crash the offensive glass. In three games this season, she has either grabbed as many (or more than) offensive rebounds as her opponents' entire team. LSU's strength of schedule likely cost Reese some spots on this list. Should her output continue at this clip through SEC play, Reese will likely ascend in the rankings. -- Hurd

9. Aneesah Morrow, DePaul

Forward | 6-foot-1 | sophomore | Previous ranking: 14
2022-23 stats:
25.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.7 SPG

There has been no sophomore slump for Morrow, last season's consensus freshman of the year. Earlier this month, she broke a 31-year old DePaul single-game scoring record, pouring in 45 points against Northwestern. Morrow's stats this season once again leap off the page and she continues to showcase her versatility as a two-way player. She ranks fourth in the country in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game and tied for fourth in double-doubles. This season, Morrow has expanded her shooting range, showing proficiency beyond her dominance in the paint, making her that much more dangerous as an offensive threat. -- Hurd

10. Ashley Joens, Iowa State

Guard/forward | 6-foot-1 | senior | Previous ranking: 4
2022-23 stats:
19.3 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.3 APG

Joens dropped from her preseason spot at No. 4 on this list not because of anything she has done wrong, it's just that so many players have compelling cases to be in the top 10. Joens remains as consistently productive as always, leading the 8-2 Cyclones in scoring and having just one rebound less than team leader Stephanie Soares. With the 6-6 Soares joining Iowa State this year, Joens has looked to get her the ball, too. Joens became Iowa State's career scoring leader last season and needs 37 rebounds to be No. 1 on that list, too. -- Voepel

11. Diamond Miller, Maryland

Guard | 6-foot-3 | senior | Previous ranking: 21
2022-23 stats:
18.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 43.7 FG%, 2.0 BPG

It has been a bit of an inconsistent season for the new-look Terps, but one constant you can rely on: If Diamond Miller goes off, Maryland has a pretty good chance of winning. The Terps are 2-2 when Miller scores fewer than 15 points (their other loss came against South Carolina, a game the senior guard missed due to injury). Earlier this month, her 31 points -- including a buzzer-beater that garnered Kevin Durant's attention -- gave Maryland a marquee victory at Notre Dame before she followed it with another big dagger 3 at home versus UConn. She'll play under the close eye of WNBA scouts for the remainder of 2022-23, as ESPN's WNBA mock draft projects Miller will be a lottery pick come April. -- Philippou

12. Maddy Siegrist, Villanova

Forward | 6-foot-1 | senior | Previous ranking: 12
2022-23 stats:
27.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.7 SPG

One of the hardest things to do is consistently put the ball in the basket when all of the defensive attention is trained on you. Yet that is what Siegrist does every night. She is shooting 52.5% from the floor and 42.6% from beyond the arc. According to Her Hoop Stats, Siegrist is second in the country in both player efficiency rating (49.2) and win shares (6.0). And she's doing all of this while being the second-leading scorer in the country! She has a big load to carry, and she's showing each game she can do it admirably. -- Barnes

Charisma Osborne makes the nice bucket against the Fresno State Bulldogs

Charisma Osborne makes the nice bucket against the Fresno State Bulldogs

13. Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana

Forward | 6-foot-3 | senior | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
19.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 69.0 FG%

Holmes wasn't ranked in the preseason, but her high-level performance in the frontcourt for No. 4 Indiana made her an undeniable addition. She has been a steadying force for a Hoosiers team playing without star guard Grace Berger. Holmes ranks first in the country in field goal percentage among players who have at least 100 shot attempts, and through 13 games is shooting a career-best 69.0% percent (100-for-145) from the field. Holmes displays exceptional footwork when she gets the ball in the paint, with the ability to finish from both the left or right block. -- Hurd

14. Aaliyah Edwards, UConn

Forward | 6-foot-3 | junior | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
17.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 63.0 FG%, 1.2 BPG

For as sensational as (a healthy) Fudd has been, UConn's unsung hero is arguably Edwards, whose emergence became even more important when Dorka Juhasz missed seven games due to a broken thumb. Edwards' stats are remarkable, especially given the down year she had as a sophomore, and she's hitting midrange jumpers more consistently than ever before. But what isn't even fully represented is the impact she has had defensively as the Huskies have faced a gantlet of ranked opponents. Edwards has set career highs in scoring in consecutive games this month, and she'll benefit even more as her UConn teammates get healthier. -- Philippou

Deja Kelly gets the lay-in to fall vs. South Carolina Upstate Spartans

Deja Kelly gets the lay-in to fall vs. South Carolina Upstate Spartans

15. Charisma Osborne, UCLA

Guard | 5-foot-9 | senior | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
18.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 44.2 FG%

Another projected first-round 2023 WNBA draft pick, Osborne is thriving with the Bruins finally healthy and home to a stacked freshman recruiting class, which has allowed her to relinquish point guard duties and play at her more natural position of small guard. Osborne -- who is managing career bests in scoring and 2-point field goal percentage (52.8%) this season -- and freshman point guard Kiki Rice have been as dynamic of a backcourt as UCLA enthusiasts dreamed, helping the Bruins reemerge into relevance by winning the Battle 4 Atlantis title and rising to No. 11 in the AP Top 25 despite starting the season unranked. If Osborne, Rice and the rest of the crew can build upon their promising start, they could make some noise in the Pac-12 in 2023. -- Philippou

16. Hailey Van Lith, Louisville

Guard | 5-foot-7 | junior | Previous ranking: 9
2022-23 stats:
19.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.3 APG

Somewhat lost in the Cardinals' slow start has been the growth Van Lith continues to show as a scorer. Tasked with more responsibility after the loss of some key seniors from last season's Final Four team, Van Lith has scored at least 18 points in 10 of Louisville's 13 games. As the Cardinals have gotten back on track with five consecutive wins, Van Lith has been the leading scorer in all but one. Her ability to relentlessly hunt shots and get them off at all three levels despite her 5-7 frame makes Van Lith an effective offensive player. -- Creme

17. Jordan Horston, Tennessee

Guard | 6-foot-2 | senior | Previous ranking: 15
2022-23 stats:
16.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.2 APG

A lot has been on Horston's shoulders in what has been -- there's no point mincing words -- a disappointing season so far for 7-6 Tennessee. However, the Lady Vols played well overall in their 77-70 loss at Stanford on Sunday, as Horston led the way with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. If Tennessee is able to right its ship during SEC play, Horston will be one of the biggest reasons for that. -- Voepel

18. Taylor Mikesell, Ohio State Buckeyes

G | 5-foot-11 | senior | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
17.5 PPG, 44.6% FG, 2.3 APG

Mikesell is the leading scorer for a resurgent Buckeyes team that is currently the third best in the nation. She can attack the rim off the bounce, has a nasty step-back jumper and is a threat to knock down outside shots as well. Mikesell is excellent at putting defenders on their heels and then making them pay with a smooth finish. Ohio State hasn't played much in the way of ranked competition, but when given the chance, Mikesell has come up big, posting 25 and 26 points against then-ranked Tennessee and Louisville, respectively. -- Barnes

19. Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State

G | 5-foot-10 | senior | Previous ranking: 11
2022-23 stats:
16.0 PPG, 3.2 APG, 6.0 SPG

This ranking would likely be higher if a lower leg injury hadn't limited Sheldon's availability to five of the Buckeyes' 12 games. When she has been out there, however, Sheldon has been outstanding. And she has been at her best against Ohio State's best competition. Versus Tennessee, Sheldon registered eight steals, and she scored 22 points at Louisville. Her six steals per game would easily lead the country if her total games played were enough to qualify. A healthy Sheldon is one of the nation's best two-way guards, and she has helped put undefeated Ohio State in position for one of its best seasons in years. -- Creme

20. Deja Kelly, North Carolina

Guard | 5-foot-8 | junior | Previous ranking: 23
2022-23 stats:
15.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG

Kelly is the player the Tar Heels can count on to make big plays, and her energy fuels them. Her season-high 29 points came in a victory over Iowa State in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational in November. Kelly has struggled from behind the arc (6 of 29), but when that part of her game is on track, she becomes even more difficult to guard. Slow starts in losses to Indiana and Michigan have hurt the 9-2 Tar Heels, but that's something Kelly can help them fix. -- Voepel

21. Emily Kiser, Michigan Wolverines

Forward | 6-foot-3 | graduate student | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
18.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.3 APG

A complementary player for most of her career, existing in the shadow of Naz Hillmon, Kiser is now demonstrating one of the best and most efficient post games in the country. Kiser's improved production has been staggering. She is averaging 10 more points per game than she did last season, has nearly doubled her assist average and is making 58.1% of her field goal attempts after 44.4% a year ago. At 11-1 the Wolverines have the same record they did a year ago at this time with all-time great Hillmon. Kiser is the primary reason Michigan hasn't missed a beat. -- Creme

22. Zia Cooke, South Carolina

Guard | 5-foot-9 | senior | Previous ranking: 20
2022-23 stats:
14.1 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG

Cooke is a playmaker. She's not the most efficient shooter, nor does she have the most size at her position, which are the two primary criticisms of her game. But when she is feelin' it, there are few players more fun to watch in college basketball. She's an elite finisher at the rim, and few guards elevate the way she does on a pull-up jumper. She can be absolutely electric. -- Barnes

23. Madi Williams, Oklahoma

Forward | 6-foot-0 | senior | Previous ranking: 19
2022-23 stats:
15.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 58.2 FG%

Recently hitting the 2,000-point career milestone, Williams has been remarkably consistent in her five seasons in Norman. Only seven times since her sophomore year has Williams failed to score in double figures. Much like Boston in South Carolina, Williams' minutes and subsequent overall production are down from last season because the Sooners are a much deeper team. However, her efficiency is up: She ranks in the nation's top 20 in field goals made per 40 minutes, according to Her Hoop Stats. As the quintessential point forward, Williams is the centerpiece of a high-powered Sooners attack that ranks fifth in the country in points per game. -- Creme

24. Diamond Johnson, NC State Wolfpack

Guard | 5-foot-5 | junior | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
13.9 PPG, 3.9 APG, 48.1 FG% (51.9 3FG%)

Johnson has been sidelined since an ankle injury on Dec. 11 versus South Florida, but she has been a steadying force for a Wolfpack team that is replacing four starters from last year's Elite Eight run. After struggling in the second half against UConn, allowing the Huskies to run away with the win, Johnson showed up massively for NC State in its first top-10 win of the season over then-No. 10 Iowa, pouring in 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field and adding nine rebounds. The Wolfpack need those around her to step up too to contend for the ACC title and make a deep NCAA tournament run, but it all starts -- as expected -- with their primary star in Johnson. -- Philippou

25. Ta'Niya Latson, Florida State Seminoles

Guard | 5-foot-8 | freshman | Previous ranking: NR
2022-23 stats:
25.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.9 APG

Latson was the No. 14 player in ESPN HoopGurlz Class of 2022 rankings, and she has immediately adjusted to the college game. She is fifth in Division I in scoring average and has been a big part of the Seminoles' 12-2 start. Latson is shooting 50.4% from the field, 40.4% (19 of 47) from behind the arc and 82.9% from the foul line. She also leads Florida State with 30 steals. Latson had 24 points in Florida State's 85-77 loss to UConn on Dec. 18, and has scored 30 or more points in three games thus far. -- Voepel

Also receiving votes

The following players received at least one vote from our panel.

Berger, Indiana
Aijha Blackwell, Baylor
Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina
Sonia Citron, Notre Dame
Sidney Cooks, Seton Hall
Monika Czinano, Iowa
Yvonne Ejim, Gonzaga
Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse
Gabby Gregory, Kansas State
Aubrey Griffin, UConn
Lauren Gustin, BYU
Harmon, Texas
Rickea Jackson, Tennessee
Taiyanna Jackson, Kansas
Hannah Jump, Stanford
Charlisse Leger-Walker, Washington State
Lou Lopez-Senechal, UConn
Morgan Maly, Creighton
Makenna Marisa, Penn State
Rebeka Mikulasikova, Ohio State
Alexis Morris, LSU
Nika Muhl, UConn
Ashley Owusu, Virginia Tech
Te-Hina Paopao, Oregon
Lauren Park-Lane, Seton Hall
Alissa Pili, Utah
Taylor Robertson, Oklahoma
Endyia Rogers, Oregon
Shyanne Sellers, Maryland
Stephanie Soares, Iowa State
Kennedy Todd-Williams, North Carolina
Alyssa Ustby, North Carolina
Keishana Washington, Drexel