The 2011-12 Gatorade State Boys Basketball Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for.
Name: Ricardo Gathers
School: Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.)
Position: Power forward
Weight: 240 pounds
Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Louisiana Boys Basketball Player of the Year. No. 34 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2010-11 Mr. Louisiana Basketball selection as named by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. 2009-10 Class 2A Outstanding Player as named by the LSWA. Three-time state champion. Three-time state championship game Most Valuable Player.
Academics: 3.42 GPA
Extracurricular activities: He has volunteered locally as a youth basketball referee.
Mike Theus, head coach of the Lousiana Select Nike Travel Team: “Gathers is a man-child playing basketball. He’s had a great year for Riverside, and he’s the main reason that they played at the level they played. He runs the floor like a gazelle. He’s soft on his feet. He’ll block a shot or grab a defensive rebound and be the first one down the court, waiting to finish on the other end. I think you’re talking about someone who’s on a level by himself right now in Louisiana.”
Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys basketball underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11.
Brian Bridgewater: Sophomore forward, Episcopal (Baton Rouge, La.)
Lloyd Grogran: Junior guard, Central Catholic (Morgan City, La.)
Matthew Killian: Junior guard/forward, Hornbeck (La.)
Sydie London: Junior guard, Saint Augustine (New Orleans, La.)
Malik Morgan: Senior guard, John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.)
Joel Pichon: Junior guard, Holy Cross (New Orleans, La.)
D’larious Venzant: Junior guard/forward, Saline (La.)
Jeffrey Walker: Junior forward, Cotton Valley (La.)
A dedicated ESPNHS POY team manages the Gatorade Player of the Year selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the program’s behalf. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU recruit rankings.
To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.