Eye on POY: Alabama boys basketball

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
3:44
PM ET
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.

Craig Sword
Senior guard, Carver (Montgomery, Ala.)

2011-12 Team record: 29-3 (Class 6A)
2011-12 Team standing: Class 6A state champions

2011-12 Points per game: 17
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 9
2011-12 Assists per game: 7
2011-12 Blocks per game: 4
2011-12 Steals per game: 5

Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Mississippi State University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Amassed 33 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals in the 61-56 victory against Hazel Green (Ala.) in the state championship game. His 17 points and seven assists produce 43.9 percent of his team’s 70.7 points per game. No. 34 ranked shooting in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 Class 6A state tournament Most Valuable Player. 2011 Class 6A First Team All-State selection as named by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. 2010 ASWA Class 5A First Team All-State selection.

Jimmie Taylor
Junior center, Greensboro (Ala.)

2011-12 Team record: 28-6 (Class 3A)
2011-12 Team standing: Class 3A state champions

2011-12 Points per game: 9.8
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 5.1
2011-12 Assists per game: 1.3
2011-12 Blocks per game: 2.9
2011-12 Steals per game: 0.6

Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Totaled 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in the 65-50 state title win over Carbon Hill (Ala.). Shot 63.4 percent from the field and 65.9 percent from the free throw line. Anchored a defense that gave up only 48.7 points per contest. No. 19 ranked recruit in Class of 2013 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 Class 3A First Team All-Tournament selection. 2011-12 USA Developmental National Team member. 2011 Class 3A First Team All-State selection as named by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. 2011 Class 3A state champion. 2011 Class 3A state tournament Most Valuable Player.

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.

Perrin Buford: Senior guard, Hillcrest (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
DeOndre Haynes: Senior guard, Calera (Ala.)
Jeffery Moss: Senior shooting guard, Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.)
Riley Norris: Sophomore forward, Albertville (Ala.)
Justin Pride: Senior point guard, Butler (Huntsville, Ala.)

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.

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