For the entirety of the 2022-23 basketball season, Penn’s programs were led by two dynamic players: junior guard Jordan Dingle on the men’s side, and senior guard Kayla Padilla for the women’s. Though no basketball was played at the Palestra on Monday night, that trend held true.
Dingle and Padilla highlighted a group of several Quakers that were honored at the Big 5 awards ceremony, hosted by Penn at the Palestra. Dingle was named the Big 5 Player of the Year, while Padilla earned first-team All-Big 5 honors. The ceremony also comes on the heels of an announcement that Dingle will declare for the 2023 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility, meaning his status for next season is still up in the air. Other award recipients included sophomore forward/center Nick Spinoso, who was named Most Improved Player, and junior forward Jordan Obi, who was named to the second team.
Both teams qualified for the Ivy League tournament this season, one of just two schools to do so. Although both teams fell to Princeton in the first round, the overall success of this season is undeniable.
Dingle’s honor marks yet another feather in the cap of his historic campaign. He was named Ivy League Player of the Year in March, and his scoring average of 23.4 points per game was good for second in the nation.
“With all the great basketball history and tradition here in Philadelphia, it’s amazing,” Dingle said. “There've been a lot of really great players who’ve been able to call themselves Big 5 Player of the Year, and I’m really blessed to be the next one up. I feel very lucky every time I get to play in a gym such as the Palestra.”
Padilla’s first-team selection is the cherry on top of her legendary time in the Red and Blue. After utilizing all of her Ivy League eligibility, Padilla is currently in the transfer portal and will soon announce the destination for her final year of college basketball. Padilla holds the career, season, and single-game program records for three-pointers made, and is seventh on the Quakers’ all-time scoring list. Being recognized by the Big 5 is a fitting end to a prolific Penn career.
“One of the most unique things about my experience here has been being a part of this Big 5 conference,” Padilla said. “They’ve been some of my most memorable games here at Penn. So it’s nice to see everyone in the community and bid farewell.”
Both have questions to answer as they look ahead to next season. For the men’s team, many of them will be alleviated if Dingle returns, but it is out of their hands. At the awards ceremony, Dingle confirmed the report, adding “we’re just gonna see where the process takes me.”
The women’s team will attempt to replace Padilla’s extraordinary impact, and Obi will be a large part of that effort. As a rising senior and the team’s second-leading scorer, much of the burden left by Padilla will fall on Obi’s shoulders.
“We’ll need more from [Obi] from a leadership standpoint,” women’s coach Mike McLaughlin said. “You know, it’s the passing of the baton. Kayla’s done, next person up. I think Jordan understands her potential is really high.”
No matter who suits up for the Quakers next season, or who shoulders the load of leader, Penn’s objective will remain the same: to win. They will have seven months to map the path to that goal, before the season begins again.