Harbison Continues to Rack Up Awards


Freshman Ciaja Harbison has now earned herself nine A-10 Rookie of the Week nods as well as a National Freshman of the Week nod from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, the first time a SLU woman has ever received the award. Photo Courtesy of Billiken Athletics.

The only thing more impressive than an eight-time A-10 Rookie of the Week is a nine-time A-10 Rookie of the Week. And the only thing that could be more impressive than nine conference awards would be a national award. Freshman guard Ciaja Harbison was named national Freshman of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association amidst her fifth consecutive conference rookie award.

Before the start of the season head coach Lisa Stone said, “Our freshman have to play this year,” and as the end of the season comes into sight fans see just how important that has been. Twelve of the 14 Rookie of the Week awards belong to Saint Louis and Saint Louis fans have thus playfully coined the award “SLU Rookie of the Week.”

But the rookie recognition reached past the A-10 when Harbison received the first USBWA award for a Billiken in program history. Harbison received the national Freshman of the Week award for her performance in two wins over George Washington and George Mason.

Harbison has been a crucial piece in the Billiken Blue Puzzle for the 2018-2019 season. A strong offensive presence and her consistency has been the key to unlocking her potential. Harbison currently sits at third in the A-10 in scoring with 130 field goals, 14 three pointers and 91 free throws for a total of 365 points. To put that into perspective, Steph Curry has a total of 0 points scored in the A-10.

The #teamfirst culture of the Billikens shows in the selfless way Harbison has played this season. Her conference runner up 106 assists speaks to that. Her defensive capability makes her just as much a threat off the ball as she is on the ball.

Harbison’s hard work in the last two games against Fordham and La Salle garnered her a fifth consecutive A-10 Rookie of the Week award averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals over the two games.

While Harbison continues to receive accolades, it is clearly a product of overall team performance. “Our team really stepped it up,” Harbison said after Wednesday’s game against Duquesne. “Even the bench players came in and made a lot of good plays. So I’m excited, we’re all excited.”

A brief look at one of Harbison’s contemporaries from St. Bonaventure starts to paint a better picture of just how formidable the Billikens and Harbison specifically are. Freshman guard Asianae Johnson is one of two non-Billikens to receive A-10 Rookie of the Week plaudits.  

Both players play a crucial role in their respective team’s rotation with Harbison playing in and starting in 24/24 games and Johnson in 23/23. They both fly around the .430 field goal percentage but Harbison consistently outscores Johnson with 130 compared to Johnson’s 83. Harbison nets about five more points per game than Johnson with 15.2 points per game compared to Johnson’s 10.

A-10 rookies are making strong performances, but none are quite able to fly with Harbison. A nine-time Rookie of the Week makes her look more on par with any veteran player in the conference than other rookies.

Harbison is only a freshman and still has three more seasons in front of her. Roll Bills!