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 guard, Corvallis (Mont.)
2011-12 Team record: 13-9 (Class A)
2011-12 Team standing: Did not qualify for Class A state tournament
2011-12 Points per game: 23.6
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.1
2011-12 Assists per game: 6.8
2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.4
2011-12 Steals per game: 2.5
Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: Utah State University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Shot 53 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the free throw line. His 23.6 points and 6.8 assists accounted for 64.4 percent of Corvallis’ 57.8 points per game. Had an impressive performance at the Adidas Super 64 Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., while playing AAU ball for Idaho Select. No. 70 ranked PG in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 Southwestern Conference Most Valuable Player. 2011 Class A Honorable Mention All-Tournament selection.
Senior forward/center, West (Billings, Mont.)
2011-12 Team record: 19-1 (Class AA)
2011-12 Team standing: Class AA first round vs. Missoula Hellgate on Thursday
2011-12 Points per game: 17.7
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 8.4
2011-12 Assists per game: 1.8
2011-12 Blocks per game: 1.0
2011-12 Steals per game: 1.6
Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Montana State University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Has played eight games against teams with winning records, finishing with a 7-1 record. Has shot 70.0 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3-point range and 74.5 percent from the free throw line. Scoring his 17.7 points on just 10.0 shots per contest. Averaging 22.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per 32 minutes. 2011 Second Team All-Eastern Conference selection. 2011 Class AA Second Team All-Tournament selection.
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.
Bobby Anderson: Senior point guard, Laurel (Mont.)
Kyle Griffith: Junior guard, Glacier (Kalispell, Mont.)
Riley King: Senior guard, Sentinel (Missoula, Mont.)
Quinn McQueary: Junior guard, Manhattan (Mont.)
Jeff Robinson: Senior forward, St. Labre (Ashland, Mont.)
George Sherwood: Senior small forward, Flathead (Kalispell, Mont.)
Shyke Smalls: Senior guard, Great Falls (Mont.)
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.