CWU News

Wildcat basketball star adds NCAA Division II Player of the Year award to trophy case

CWU's Samantha Bowman takes the ball to the hoop

CWU standout basketball player Samantha Bowman was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year after her record-breaking season.

The postseason accolades just keep piling up for Samantha Bowman.

The CWU women’s basketball star—who already won Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Player of the Year and Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) West Region Player of the Year honors this winter—added another award to her trophy case over the weekend: NCAA Division II Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-3 senior center broke the GNAC’s career rebounding record this season and became the first women’s basketball player in conference history to win the Ron Lenz Player of the Year award. Bowman is also just the second GNAC player to be named a First Team All-American by the D2CCA, and the second consensus First Team All-American in conference history.

She shared her excitement with on Sunday, saying: “Even though this is a great individual award, I couldn't have gotten this without my teammates—especially the guards for finding me in the post and allowing me to score. I also couldn't have done this without the incredible help of my coaches and trainers.” 

Samantha BowmanBowman is now a two-time D2CCA All-American after leading the nation in rebounding for the second consecutive season with 14.9 boards per game. She finished her career with an eye-popping 1,219 rebounds. Meanwhile, she averaged 22.2 points per game this season—good for sixth in Division II—and posted a double-double in 26 of 30 games, also a D-II best.

Those 26 double-doubles included just the seventh triple-double in GNAC women’s basketball history, when Bowman checked in with 15 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists against Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 12.

The Zillah native led CWU to a 21-9 overall record and the program’s second trip to the D-II West Regional in as many years. The ‘Cats lost their first-round matchup to Cal State San Marcos on March 10.

Bowman signed a professional contract earlier this month with the Rockhampton Cyclones of Australia’s National Basketball League. She expects to suit up for the season opener on Friday.

She finished her CWU career as the second-leading scorer in program history with 1,632 points, setting the CWU single-season scoring record with 665 points in 2022-23. Along the way, she broke the GNAC Tournament single-game record with 40 points in an opening round win over Simon Fraser on March 2. She also broke the GNAC single-game record for rebounds with 31 in a win over Whitman on December 17.  

Bowman offered a few parting words for her teammates, coaches, and supporters in the Wildcat community, telling “I hope that this award will also help to elevate the women's basketball program at Central. It is a place that I owe a lot to and love being a part of. To all fellow athletes, commit yourself every day to being better. Always give 120%, don't give up when things get hard, and play with passion.”

Her coach, Randi Richardson-Thornley, congratulated Bowman on a memorable career, noting that while her star player will be missed, her legacy will be felt at CWU for many years to come.

“We are incredibly happy for and proud of Sam," the coach told "She has been committed and has worked incredibly hard for everything that she has earned ... She has always done it the right way, always has been a great teammate, and not once has had an ounce of entitlement. She deserves this through and through." 

Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518