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New York Liberty’s Michaela Onyenwere Named 2021 KIA WNBA Rookie of the Year

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NEW YORK, United States of America, October 6, 2021/ — New York Liberty forward Michaela Onyenwere has been named the 2021 Kia WNBA Rookie of the Year, the WNBA announced. 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.


Player Team Votes
Michaela Onyenwere New York Liberty 47
Aari McDonald Atlanta Dream 1
DiDi Richards New York Liberty 1


2021 Michaela Onyenwere New York Liberty
2020 Crystal Dangerfield Minnesota Lynx
2019 Napheesa Collier Minnesota Lynx
2018 A’ja Wilson Las Vegas Aces
2017 Allisha Gray Dallas Wings
2016 Breanna Stewart Seattle Storm
2015 Jewell Loyd Seattle Storm
2014 Chiney Ogwumike Connecticut Sun
2013 Elena Delle Donne Chicago Sky
2012 Nneka Ogwumike Los Angeles Sparks
2011 Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx
2010 Tina Charles Connecticut Sun
2009 Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream
2008 Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks
2007 Armintie Price Chicago Sky
2006 Seimone Augustus Minnesota Lynx
2005 Temeka Johnson Washington Mystics
2004 Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury
2003 Cheryl Ford Detroit Shock
2002 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2001 Jackie Stiles Portland Fire
2000 Betty Lennox Minnesota Lynx
1999 Chamique Holdsclaw Washington Mystics
1998 Tracy Reid Charlotte Sting
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Press Contacts:
Ron Howard
WNBA Communications
[email protected]

Sam Tager
WNBA Communications
[email protected]

About Kia America:

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Kia America continues to top automotive quality surveys and is recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands. Kia serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League and offers a complete range of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 750 dealers in the U.S., including several cars and SUVs proudly assembled in America.

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About the WNBA:

Currently in its 25th season in 2021, the WNBA is a bold, progressive basketball league that stands for the power of women. Featuring 12 teams, the W is a unique sports property that combines competition and entertainment with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and social responsibility. Through its world-class athletes, the in-game fan experience, TV and digital broadcasts, digital and social content, and community outreach programs, the league celebrates and elevates the game of basketball and the culture around it.

In 2020, the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) signed a groundbreaking eight-year CBA that charts a new course for women’s basketball—and women’s sports overall—with a focus on increased player compensation, improvements to the player experience, expanded career development opportunities, and resources specifically tailored to the female professional athlete. Key elements of the agreement are supported through the league’s new platform, WNBA Changemakers, with AT&T, the WNBA’s Marquee Partner, and inaugural Changemaker, as well as fellow inaugural Changemakers Deloitte and Nike, and the recent addition of Google. During the 2020 season, the WNBA and WNBPA launched the WNBA Justice Movement forming the Social Justice Council with the mission of being a driving force of necessary change and continuing conversations about race and voting rights, among other important societal issues.

For more information, visit

National Basketball Association (NBA)

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