GREENVILLE, N.C. – After one of the best seasons in program history, Taniyah Thompson of the East Carolina women’s basketball team has been named the AAC Most Improved Player as well as to the AAC First-Team All-Conference, as announced by the league office on Sunday.
“Words can’t express how proud and happy I am of Taniyah,” said head coach Kim McNeill. “This honor couldn’t happen to a better person. From the day she stepped on campus, she has been fully committed to this staff and fully committed to moving this program forward. Her work ethic has definitely put her in this position. To be able to do what Taz did in conference play on a nightly basis, to face box-and-ones, knowing that she’s at the top of the scouting report and to still be able to be at the top of the league in scoring is very impressive. She’s worked extremely hard over her career and she’s definitely deserving of these two awards.”
Thompson is the first player in East Carolina history to receive the Most Improved Player award, regardless of conference. The Hamden, Ct., native is the second Pirate to earn First-Team All-Conference honors in the American, joining Jada Payne who earned the honor in both 2015 and 2016. Thompson is the third Pirate to earn an individual award since moving to the AAC, joining I’Tiana Taylor, who was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year in 2015, and former teammate Lashonda Monk, who was the Defensive Player of the Year in both 2020 and 2021. Finally, Thompson is the 12th ECU player to be named First-Team All-Conference, with the Pirates having two in the American, four in C-USA (Payne was first-team in both the AAC and C-USA) and seven in the CAA.
From the day she arrived in Greenville, Thompson has been a threat on the offensive end, including setting an ECU freshman record with 412 points during her rookie campaign and averaging 12.0 points in 2020-21. However, she has taken her game to another level this year, finishing second in scoring in the AAC at 18.64 points per game. She was efficient at all three levels, shooting a career-high from the floor (40.4%), from three-point range (32.9%) and from the free-throw line (78.4%). She also set a career-high in rebounding (4.3 rpg) and assists (31). Thompson has been incredibly consistent as well, scoring in double-figures in 26 of 28 games, finishing the season on a streak of 19 straight games of at least 10 points, a stretch that included all 15 AAC games.
Thompson became an even bigger offensive threat once East Carolina’s conference schedule got underway. In 15 games against AAC opponents, she increased her scoring average to 19.3 points, also second in the league. The junior guard has been named the AAC Player of the Week twice this year, becoming the first Pirate to win the award multiple times in the same season, while her five selections to the league’s Weekly Honor Roll are also an ECU record. Thompson has scored at least 20 points on 12 different occasions, setting a new career-high with 31 points at UNCW. She scored at least 20 points in six straight games in the thick of AAC play, the longest streak by a Pirate since Kathy Riley in 1980-81 and just one game off the record held by Riley and Rosie Thompson.
Thompson and her Pirate teammates will open the AAC Championship on Monday afternoon with a first round matchup against Memphis. That game will tipoff at 4 p.m., at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas and will be broadcast on ESPN+.