Among the first national honors many top players receive is national class player of the year honors from ESPNHS.
The following selections will headline our 2009-10 ESPNHS Underclass All-American Boys Basketball Team, which will be released in the coming weeks.
Austin Rivers of Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) edged out last year's sophomore selection, Michael Gilchrist of St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), for National Junior Player of the Year honors. Both players made the overall ESPNHS All-American Boys Basketball First Team. No sophomore or freshman made the overall first or second team this season.
ESPNHS has chosen All-American teams and compiled national rankings in numerous sports for over 20 years. Input from Mr. Basketball USA panelists was also key in final player selections.
National Junior Player of the Year:
Austin Rivers, Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) 6-3 G
The son of former NBA player and current Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers led the Wildcats to the state Class 6A title and a berth in the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational. A big-game performer, he scored 45 as Winter Park handed St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N. J.) its only loss and dropped 41 in two others games, including a showdown win over Brandon Knight and Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). He is the second consecutive class player of the year from the Sunshine State as Knight took home top honors among juniors last season.
National Sophomore Player of the Year:
Perry Ellis, Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) 6-8 F
Ellis led the 23-2 Falcons to their second consecutive Class 6A state title by averaging 22.2 points and 10.4 rebounds. He pumped in 20 points and 11 rebounds in the state final. DaJuan Coleman of Jamesville-Dewitt (Dewitt, N.Y.) edged Ellis for freshman honors last season. This season, however, Ellis stepped up his game and led Heights to a No. 44 finish in the ESPNHS FAB 50. The first-ever sophomore pick from Kansas, Ellis is already a two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year.
National Freshman Player of the Year:
Jabari Parker, Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 6-6 F
Jabari Parker is the only freshman to ever start for tradition-laden Simeon, over alumni like Derrick Rose and the late Ben Wilson. Parker was in the lineup all season as the Wolverines captured their fourth state Class A crown. This man-child is the son of ex-NBA player Sonny Parker, himself a Chicago hoops legend. In his first season, Parker impressed with 18 points and eight rebounds against FAB 50 No. 2 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) and had 18 points and eight boards against Illinois power Waukegan (Waukegan, Ill.). Parker, already holding eight college offers, averaged 9.3 ppg and is Illinois' first national freshman pick since Ronnie Fields of Farragut (Chicago, Ill.) in 1993.
Note: All selections based on high school accomplishment, not future college/pro potential, and are reflective of those that lead their teams to state championships. ESPNHS does not knowingly select fifth-year players, and those ineligible due to age or academics, as Mr. Basketball USA or to its various All-American teams.