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Eye on POY: Iowa girls basketball

The window on the Gatorade State Girls 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.

Jadda Buckley

Junior point guard, Mason City (Iowa)

2011-12 Team record: 21-2 (Class 4A)

2011-12 Team standing: 4A state tournament begins on Wednesday

2011-12 Points per game: 14.3

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 3.6

2011-12 Assists per game: 5.3

2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.3

2011-12 Steals per game: 3

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Iowa State University (verbal)

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: 2010 and 2011 First Team All-League; 2010 and 2011 First Team A;;-Conference; 2011 Globe Gazette Area Player of the Year.

Maddie Manning

Senior guard, Ankeny (Iowa)

2011-12 Team record: 21-3 (Class 4A)

2011-12 Team standing: Class 4A state tournament begins on Wednesday

2011-12 Points per game: 16.6

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 5

2011-12 Assists per game: 2.6

2011-12 Blocks per game: 1.3

2011-12 Steals per game: 3.6

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: University of Oklahoma

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: 2011 First Team All-State; Ranked No. 33 on ESPNU Hoopgurlz 100.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls 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.

Ally Disterhoft: Junior guard, Iowa City West (Iowa)

Courtney Strait: Senior forward, Kennedy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Blaire Thomas: Senior guard, Waterloo West (Iowa)

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.