PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's senior guard Natasha Cloud has been recognized as one of the top players in the nation as she was named to the Naismith Trophy Women's Basketball 50 Watch List, organization officials announced on Wednesday.
Proving to be one of the best point guards in the nation the past few seasons, the Broomall, Pennsylvania, native has picked up where she left off a season ago, leading the Atlantic 10 in assists (52), while pacing the Hawks with a career-high 7.3 rebounds a game. Starting all nine games, the the the A-10 Preseason First Team and A-10 All-Defensive Team honoree is currently shooting a career-best 45 percent from the field (36-80) and ranks third on the team in scoring at 10.7 points per game.
Since sitting out the 2011-12 season after transferring from Maryland, Cloud has led the Hawks to great heights the last two years. In her first season, she led Saint Joseph's to an A-10 title and NCAA Tournament appearance, garnering Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 A-10 Championship and A-10 All-Defensive Team honors along the way.
As a junior, Cloud's talents were on full display en route to being named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List for top point guard in the nation. Guiding SJU to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, Cloud set a new single-season record for assists at SJU (243) and ranked second nationally in assists per game (7.6). Averaging a career-high 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, she was named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, A-10 All-Conference Second Team selection and All-Big 5 First Team recipient.
The three-year starter already ranks seventh all-time in career assists at SJU (437), and is on pace to finish in the top-25 for scoring (757) and rebounding (424).
The Naismith Women's Trophy, which is the most prestigious national award presented annually to the women's college basketball player of the year, will announce its Midseason 30 on February 11 and narrow it to 10 semifinalists on March 5. The four finalists for this year's award will be selected prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament on March 20, with the winner announced at the Final Four on April 6.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, which have become the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Women's College Basketball Players of the Year. Old Dominion's Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women's Naismith Trophy in 1983.
Cloud and the Hawks return to action on December 21 at Notre Dame at 1 p.m.