A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For her 50 fellow Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Mercedes Russell
School: Springfield (Ore.)
Athletic achievement: Russell has led the Millers to a 23-3 record and a berth in the Class 5A state quarterfinals against Wilsonville (Ore.), played Wednesday. She averaged 25.9 points, 15.4 rebounds, 6.6 blocks, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals through 26 games while shooting 66.8 percent from the floor and 80.7 percent from the free throw line. A member of the USA Basketball U16 National Team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championships in July 2011, Russell was the 2011 Class 5A State Player of the Year and the 2011 Midwestern League MVP.
Academic excellence: Russell has maintained a 3.17 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally at a food bank and as a youth basketball coach.
“Mercedes Russell moves well for a young player still growing in her body,” said Steve Eastburn, head coach at South Eugene (Eugene, Ore.). “In addition she has great hands and catches anything thrown to her. She has a high basketball IQ that allows her to be a great passer, help defender and shot blocker.”
THE FUTURE: Russell will begin her senior year of high school this fall.