Eye on POY: North Carolina boys basketball

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.

Braxton Ogbueze

Senior point guard, United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.)

2011-12 Team record: 18-10

(North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1A)

2011-12 Team standing: Did not participate in NCISAA Class 1A state tournament

2011-12 Points per game: 22.0

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 2.3

2011-12 Assists per game: 2.9

2011-12 Steals per game: 1.6

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: University of Florida

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Shot 60.9 percent from the field, 54.2 percent from the 3-point range and 83.3 percent from the free throw line. Earned invites to this past summer's Nike Global Challenge and National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp. No. 47 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 All-American Championship selection. 2011 and 2012 NCISAA First Team All-State selection. 2011 First Team All-State selection as named by the Associated Press.

Rodney Purvis

Senior shooting guard, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.)

2011-12 Team record: 24-16 (Greater Carolina High School Athletic Association)

2011-12 Team standing: GCHSAA champions

2011-12 Points per game: 26.1

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.7

2011-12 Assists per game: 4.2

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: North Carolina State University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Scored 24 points in the 85-61 GCHSAA title-clinching victory against Quality Education Academy. His 25.3 points and 3.6 assists produced 44.1 percent of his team’s 73.7 points per contest. Led the CP3 All-Stars to the semifinals of the Amateur Athletic Union 17U Division I National Championships this past summer. No. 20 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 McDonald’s All-American; 2012 Jordan Brand Classic selection. 2011 National Christian School Athletic Association First Team All-American.

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.

Montay Brandon: Senior shooting guard, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.)

Allerik Freeman: Junior shooting guard, Olympic (Charlotte, N.C.)

Anton Gill: Junior shooting guard, Ravenscroft School (Raleigh, N.C.)

Isaiah Hicks: Junior power forward, Webb (Oxford, N.C.)

Kennedy Meeks: Junior center, West Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)

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.