NEW YORK – New York Liberty forward Michaela Onyenwere has been named the 2021 Kia WNBA Rookie of the Year, the WNBA announced today. She becomes the first player to win the annual award with the Liberty.
Onyenwere received 47 votes from a national panel of 49 sportswriters and broadcasters. Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald and Liberty guard/forward DiDi Richards received one vote each.
Onyenwere averaged 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 22.5 minutes in 32 games (29 starts) this season. She led all WNBA rookies in points per game, field goals made (91) and three-pointers made (37). The 6-foot Onyenwere also ranked second among rookies in total rebounds (94).
A regular starter in her first WNBA season, Onyenwere recorded 12 games with 10 or more points and five games with five or more rebounds. In her WNBA debut, she finished with 18 points and five rebounds against the Indiana Fever on May 14. Onyenwere scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed five rebounds against the Dream on May 29. In her first career double-double, she posted 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against the Minnesota Lynx on Aug. 31.
Onyenwere won all four Kia WNBA Rookie of the Month awards this season. She helped New York qualify for the WNBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season.
New York selected Onyenwere with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft. Onyenwere played four college seasons at UCLA, where she became the Bruins’ first two-time AP All-America Team selection and finished her career as the fourth-leading scorer in program history (1,888 points).
In honor of being named the 2021 Kia WNBA Rookie of the Year, Onyenwere will receive $5,150 and a specially designed trophy by Tiffany & Co.
Below are the voting results for the 2021 Kia WNBA Rookie of the Year Award and a list of past recipients.