The window on the Gatorade State Boys 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.
Senior guard, Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
2011-12 Team record: 27-1 (Class AAAA)
2011-12 Team standing: Class AAAA state tournament begins on March 22
2011-12 Points per game: 16.0
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 2.3
2011-12 Assists per game: 3.3
2011-12 Steals per game: 2.1
Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Harvard University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Hopkins finished 7-0 in seven games against teams ranked in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's top 10. Shooting 51.2 percent from the field, 43.6 percent from 3-point range and 81.0 percent from the free throw line. No. 45 ranked point guard in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011-12 ESPNHS First Team All-State preseason selection. 2011 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-State selection. 2011 Class AAAA All-Tournament selection. 2009, 2010 and 2011 Class AAAA state champion.
Sophomore point guard, Apple Valley (Minn.)
2011-12 Team record: 23-5 (Class AAAA)
2011-12 Team standing: Class AAAA sectional final vs. Eastview on Friday
2011-12 Points per game: 28.4
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 4.4
2011-12 Assists per game: 8.1
2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.7
2011-12 Steals per game: 3.6
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Undecided
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: His 28.4 points and 8.1 assists produce 57.3 percent of Apple Valley's 77.9 points per game. Averaged 4.6 points on 11-of-20 shooting to go along with 5.6 assists and 2.0 rebounds coming off the bench for USA Basketball's U16 National Team that captured the gold medal at this past summer’s FIBA Americas Championship. No. 3 ranked recruit in Class of 2014 as rated by ESPNU. Member of USA Basketball’s U16 National Team. 2011-12 ESPNHS First Team All-State preseason selection. 2011 Honorable Mention All-State selection as named by the Associated Press. 2011 Class AAAA Third Team All-Tournament selection.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys 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.
Joey King: Senior forward, Eastview (Apple Valley, Minn.)
Sanjay Lumpkin: Senior small forward, Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Marcus Marshall: Senior shooting guard, Johnson (St. Paul, Minn.)
Jonny Woodard: Senior shooting guard, East (Duluth, Minn.)
Isaiah Zierden: Senior shooting guard, Benilde-St. Margaret's (Minneapolis, Minn.)
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.