Senior guard and captain Kayla Padilla was named the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association after back-to-back 20-plus point games on Jan. 6 and 7, where Penn defeated Cornell and Columbia, respectively.
Against Cornell, Padilla put up a game-high 27 points and recorded six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block. She then put up yet another impressive performance the very next day, scoring 21 points against Columbia. Once again, she contributed beyond just scoring by notching five rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
The award came just a month after she became the third fastest player in Penn women's basketball history to reach 1000 points, which occurred in a 62-61 victory against Temple on Dec. 11. Padilla led the Quakers to victory in that game, scoring 28 points and hitting a game-winning shot with 6.8 seconds left.
Padilla is “as good as you’re going to see at this level," Coach Mike McLaughlin said after the Temple game. He noted that the 1000-point milestone was "pretty remarkable for anyone at any level let alone the college level.”
This honor would mark the second time that Padilla has been recognized by the USBWA — the first came in December 2019, when she was named the National Freshman of the Week. Since then, Padilla has continued to make herself an integral part of the team. This season, she leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game.
Despite the many honors, for Padilla, there is one accolade that has remained just out of reach.
“I think at the end of the day, our goal is to make it to the Ivy League tournament that we missed last season," Padilla said in November following the team's season opener. "For me personally, it's a huge goal to get there because it would be my first and last time to get to the tournament.”
The team is currently poised to make an appearance with a 4-1 record in Ivy play, showing a marked improvement from last year, which saw them just miss out on the Ivy League tournament with a 7-7 conference record. Whether or not Padilla can guide the Quakers back to the tournament, her impact on the program will be felt for seasons to come.
“I think her legacy will speak for itself,” McLaughlin said.