University of Maine’s Adrianna Smith goes up for a shot as Fordham’s Kaitlyn Downey defends in first half action of the women’s basketball game in Orono on Dec. 8, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

University of Maine sophomore forward Adi Smith has been named the America East Player of the Year.

She is the third Black Bear in as many years to earn the award following Blanca Millan (2020-21) and Anne Simon (2021-22).

Smith was also an All-America East first team selection while Simon, a senior guard who has missed 16 games with a high ankle sprain, was a second team choice.

Joining Smith on the All-AE first team were Albany’s Kayla Cooper and Helene Haegerstrand and Vermont’s Emma Utterback and Anna Olson.

Accompanying Simon on the second team were UMBC’s Kiara Bell and K.K. White, Binghamton’s Denai Bowman and Bryant’s Mariona Planes Fortuny.

Bell was the Defensive Player and Newcomer of the Year; NJIT’s Alejandra Zuniga was the Rookie of the Year; UMB’s Nia Staples won the Sixth Player Award and Vermont’s Alisa Kresge was the Coach of the Year.

With Simon missing 17 games due to a high ankle sprain, Smith had to carry the scoring load and did so in impressive fashion while leading the Black Bears to a 15-13 overall record and an 11-5 conference record that earned them the third seed for the playoffs.  

She averaged just 7.1 minutes of playing time per game a year ago.

The 6-foot native of Reston, Virginia, is a four-time America East Player of the Week who leads the conference in scoring at 18 points per game in all games and in rebounding with 9.5 rebounds per game. She is also dishing out 3.4 assists per game, which is fourth-best in the league.

Her 50.4 percent shooting percentage is second and she is the league’s fifth best foul shooter at 73.9 percent.

In conference games, her 23.5 points per game and 10.8 rebounds also top the league.

She has 15 double-doubles in 28 games, which is 14th most in the country. She has had 11 in her last 17 games.

She has had 13 games in which she has scored at least 20 points and four with 30 or more.

“The numbers she is putting up are incredible. Nineteen rebounds in a game. She is putting up statistics we haven’t seen in a long time in this program and we’ve had some pretty good players,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon.

“It has been a joy to watch. She has worked hard to get to where she is and she continues to work. She wants to keep getting better,” Vachon added.

Binghamton All-AE senior guard Bowman said for Smith to go from playing seven minutes a game last year to being the player she is this season is amazing.

“She has had a lot of growth this past year. She is killing it each and every game,” Bowman said. “I’m happy for her.”

Simon, who was also the league’s Defensive Player of the Year last season in addition to being the Player of the Year, has played in only 12 of the team’s 28 games but has averaged 12 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

She first injured her ankle in the third game of the season against Yale, missed the next eight games, and then played the next seven before reinjuring the ankle against Binghamton.

The 5-foot-8 Simon, who is from Sandweiler, Luxembourg, sat out the next eight games before returning for the final two regular season games — an 80-67 win over New Hampshire and 69-65 victory over Binghamton.

She had 19 points, three rebounds, four assists and five steals against UNH and 18 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals against Binghamton.

“Coming back from an injury like that is harder mentally than it is physically but she has done a great job working on both aspects,” Vachon said.