The 2011-12 Gatorade State Boys Basketball Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for.
Name: Mike Gesell
School: South Sioux City (Neb.)
Position: Point guard
Weight: 185 pounds
Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Nebraska Boys Basketball Player of the Year. No. 83 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2009-10 and 2010-11 First Team Super-State selection as named by the Lincoln Journal Star (2010-11 honorary captain). 2009-10 and 2010-11 First Team All-Nebraska selection as named by the Omaha World-Herald (2010-11 honorary captain) 2009-10 Class B First Team All-State selection as named by The Associated Press. 2009-10 and 2010-11 Class B state champion.
Academics: 4.0 GPA
College: University of Iowa
Extracurricular activities: In addition to donating his time as a youth basketball instructor and referee, he has volunteered on behalf of his church’s youth group, a holiday gift-giving campaign, the National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Tom Betz, head coach of rival Bishop Heelan (Sioux City, Neb.): “We’ve been fortunate enough to have some great players come through here over the last 10 years, including Kirk Hinrich, but I don’t know if we’ve ever had someone as good as Mike Gesell. He’s a winner. He plays every play. I’ve never seen a player handle the game the way he does. He can hit the 3-point shot, but the 15-foot pull-up jumper is his bread and butter. He does a great job of finding his teammates, too. The kid is soaking wet at the end of games, because he works so hard.”
Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys basketball underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11.
Akoy Agau: Sophomore power forward, Central (Omaha, Neb.)
Connor Beranek: Senior forward, Ravenna (Neb.)
Trevor Bryant: Senior forward, Takemah-Herman (Takemah, Neb.)
Jacob Olmstead: Senior forward, Overton (Neb.)
Drew Ott: Junior forward, Giltner (Neb.)
A dedicated ESPNHS POY team manages the Gatorade Player of the Year selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the program’s behalf. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU recruit rankings.
To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.