The window on the Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.
Senior power forward, Riverside Academy
2011-12 Team record: 33-10 (Class 2A)
2011-12 Team standing: Lost Class 2A state final to John Curtis, 57-48
2011-12 Points per game: 20.2
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 17.0
2011-12 Assists per game: 2.1
2011-12 Blocks per game: 4.1
2011-12 Steals per game: 1.1
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Baylor University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Amassed 18 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out of the 57-48 state championship loss to Curtis. Faced five teams currently ranked on the ESPNHS FAB 50, averaging 18.2 points. Recorded 18.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League's Peach Jam this past summer. 2010-11 Gatorade Louisiana Boys Basketball Player of the Year. No. 35 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 Mr. Basketball selection as named by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. 2011 Player of the Year as named by The Times-Picayune. 2010 and 2011 Class 2A Player of the Year as named by the LSWA. 2010 and 2011 Class 2A state championship game Most Valuable Player. 2010 and 2011 Class 2A state champion. 2009 Class C state champion. 2009 Class C state championship game MVP.
Senior guard, John Curtis Christian School (River Ridge, La.)
2011-12 Team record: 30-3 (Class 2A)
2011-12 Team standing: Class 2A state champions
2011-12 Points per game: 18.0
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.0
2011-12 Assists per game: 4.6
2011-12 Blocks per game: 3.7
2011-12 Steals per game: 4.3
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Louisiana State University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 13.4 points in five Class 2A state tournament games. Shot 58 percent from 2-point range, 45 percent from beyond the arc and 73 percent from the free throw line. His 18.0 points and 4.6 assists produced 40.8 percent of his team's 66.7 points per game. No. 55 ranked shooting guard in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 Player of the Year as named by The Times-Picayune. 2010 and 2011 Class 2A Honorable Mention All-State selection as named by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.
Javan Felix: Senior point guard, St. Augustine (New Orleans, La.)
Jarrell Martin: Junior small forward, Madison Prep Academy (Baton Rouge, La.)
Michael Qualls: Senior guard/forward, Huntington (Shreveport, La.)
Jamal Samuel: Senior small forward, O.P. Walker (New Orleans, La.)
Duan Wright: Senior forward, Peabody Magnet (Alexandria, La.)
Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.