ESPNBoston.com and its high school staff are pleased to announce today that Ashley Russell, senior guard of the Braintree High School Wamps, is the recipient of its fifth annual "Miss Basketball" award, given annually to the top female player in Massachusetts.
The Mr. Basketball Award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff, correspondents and analysts. Russell will be presented the award at a later date. A two-time winner, she joins Reading’s Olivia Healy (2013) and Andover’s Nicole Boudreau (2011-12) among past recipients in the award’s five-year history.
"We are pleased to present Miss Russell with our fifth annual Miss Basketball award," said ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall, who coordinates the site’s basketball coverage. "This Braintree squad is one of the most impressive gatherings of talent ever to come through Massachusetts, but Ashley was affirmatively in the driver’s seat of this wagon. It was about the little things as much as the big things with her, and her tenacity on the defensive end was a thing to behold. She was one of the most fun players to watch in my time with ESPN."
The 5-foot-10 Russell led the Wamps to a second straight MIAA Division 1 State Championship earlier this month, going wire to wire as the No. 1 team in ESPNBoston.com’s statewide poll for the second straight season after going 25-0. With a starting five consisting entirely of scholarship recruits, the Wamps haven’t lost a game in-state in over two years – and have just one loss overall since that last in-state loss, in the 2013 Eastern Mass. Final.
In Russell’s four years with the varsity, the Wamps have won four consecutive Division 1 South titles, and won back-to-back state titles. Over that span, they’ve gone 97-5, including a 50-1 mark the last two seasons.
On the season, Russell averaged 13.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game. She leaves Braintree as arguably its most decorated player in program history. In addition to her two Miss Basketball nods, she is the state’s two-time Gatorade Player of the Year, a two-time Bay State Conference MVP, a four-time First Team All-Bay State selection and has scored 1,083 points in her career.
Russell will continue her basketball career next season at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Ashley has set a precedent for not only how to win, but how to win while playing the right way," said Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell. “She is unselfish, humble, and hard-working. Ashley would've been a good player simply by using the talent she inherited, but she became an incredible player by out-working everyone on the court.
"When you watch her in practice you'd think she was playing in a championship game. That's how hard she plays – and she does it every day. She is a tremendous player and an even more exceptional person. I'm already jealous that the UPenn staff gets to coach her next year."