When it comes to awards, Destiny Leo has largely been there and done that. However, her most recent honor is among her most prestigious yet.
The Cleveland State senior was one of 25 players selected to the preseason watch list for the 2024 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award, presented by Her Hoop Stats, the organization announced on Wednesday.
Though the Vikings star has a long and growing list of accolades to her name, most recently including a second consecutive selection as the Horizon League’s preseason player of the year, this is the first recognition she’s received from this particular award. However, an increase in positive attention after becoming the only player in Division I to shoot at least 45 percent from two, 35 percent from three, and 90 percent from the line on at least five attempts from each per game last season (and the first to accomplish the feat since 2014-15) is hardly surprising — not to mention Cleveland State’s 30-5 overall record and NCAA Tournament appearance.
To be eligible for the award, players must compete in one of the 26 conferences deemed to be “mid-major,” essentially every NCAA Division I league outside of the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC.
In January the 15-player midseason watch list will be announced, followed by the ten semifinalists in February. The five finalists will then be determined in early March, with the winner revealed around the Final Four. The list is fluid and players may play their way on or off the list over the course of the season. The award was first given in 2020, and though no Horizon League player has claimed it yet — UMass’ Sam Breen was last season’s winner — HL greats like Macee Williams and Megan Walstad have appeared on its assortment of preliminary lists.
Its namesake, of course, is the current head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, which recently won a second consecutive league championship. Prior to becoming one of women’s basketball’s most noted figures thanks to a legendary playing career and her turn as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs (where she was the second female coach in NBA history), Hammon was once a mid-major player herself. In 1999, the three-time All-American led Colorado State to the Sweet 16 as a senior.
The Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award is presented by Her Hoops Stats, a statistics website that completed its sixth season of operation in 2022-23 and is focused on providing consistent, reliable, and easy-to-access data about women’s basketball. HHS has expanded in recent years to include a newsletter, podcast network, YouTube channel, and social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).