Eye on POY: Louisiana 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.

Kuaneshia Baker

Senior guard, Helen Cox (Harvey, La.)

2011-12 Team record: 24-7

2011-12 Team standing: Ineligible for postseason

2011-12 Points per game: 25.0

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 9.7

2011-12 Assists per game: 4.5

2011-12 Blocks per game: 1.1

2011-12 Steals per game: 3.0

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: LSU (NLI)

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: McDonald's All-American Game nominee; Preseason All-Metro Player of the Year; Two-time District Player of the Year; School-record 2,695 career points.

Halle Washington

Junior forward, Parkway (Bossier City, La.)

2011-12 Team record: 22-12

2011-12 Team standing: Lost in Class 5A second round

2011-12 Points per game: 14.9

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 9.3

2011-12 Assists per game: 0.6

2011-12 Blocks per game: 2.6

2011-12 Steals per game: 2.2

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: HS junior

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: HoopGurlz Class of 2013 No. 21-rated recruit; 2011 Class 5A Honorable Mention All-State selection; 2011 Shreveport Times First Team All-Metro pick

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.

Ashley Johnson: Senior guard, Helen Cox (Harvey, La.)

Jasmine King: Senior guard, Lafayette (La.)

LuLu Perry: Senior guard, Benton (La.)

KeKe Veal: Senior guard, St.Thomas More (Lafayette, La.)

Derreyal Youngblood: Senior center, John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, 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.