Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year nominees

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
3:00
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A dozen exceptional student-athletes -- already honored as National Player of the Year in their respective sports -- are contenders for the 10th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award. On Tuesday in Los Angeles, one boy and one girl will be named prep sports’ Male and Female Athletes of the Year (ESPN3, 9:40 p.m. EDT), and both will be recognized at the ESPYS the following evening.

And the male nominees are (click here for the female nominees):

Gatorade POY, Johnathan Gray, Aledo, Texas
Susan Goldman/GatoradeAledo (Texas) running back Johnathan Gray raises his Gatorade National Football Player of the Year trophy.
FOOTBALL: Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Texas)
Senior running back

Athletic excellence: In the history of high school football, no one has scored more touchdowns than Gray, and only four other prep backs have rushed for as many career (10,889) or single-season (3,886) yards. The state single-season record-holder for rushing touchdowns with 65, Gray also owns the Texas career records for carries (1,218), touchdowns, points and 100-yard games (51).

Academic achievement: B+ average

Exemplary character: Youth Group mentor, Willow Park Baptist Church. Aledo Independent School District Heath Committee, Aledo HS student representative, 2009-11 (promotes healthy lifestyles among peers). Aledo HS student council, 2009-11. Aledo Youth Football mentor. Helping Hands Foundation, Baylor All Saints Hospital (patient support). Alcohol and drug awareness, Shattered Dreams youth-led community collaborative. AISD special education pupils’ mentor, 2008-11.


CROSS COUNTRY: Futsum Zeinasellassie, North Central (Indianapolis)
Senior distance runner

Athletic excellence: Winner of the Nike Cross Nationals Final in a course record and runner-up at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships nine days later -- coming within six-tenths of a second of dual national titles -- Zeinasellassie captured his fourth straight state outdoor track title in the 3,200 this spring, breaking a 37-year-old meet record and clocking the fastest time among U.S. prep boys in 2012 (8:47.75).

Academic achievement: B average

Exemplary character: Choir member, John the Baptist Orthodox Church. Youth Group Leader, John the Baptist Orthodox Church. Student Aide, NCHS. Volunteer, Multiple area road races. Official Starter/Volunteer Coach, Washington Township Middle School Cross Country Meet. Charity fundraiser in association with multiple area triathlons.


Eye on POY, Jabari Parker, Simeon, Illinois, boys
Scott Powers/ESPNHSSimeon (Chicago, Ill.) junior forward Jabari Parker earned USA Basketball's prestigious Male Athlete of the Year honor.
BASKETBALL: Jabari Parker, Simeon Career Academy (Chicago)
Junior small forward

Athletic excellence: Just the fourth boys' basketball talent in history to win Gatorade National Player of the Year as a non-senior -- the 18th underclassman ever to win across all sports in 27 years -- Parker is 21-0 in the postseason and 3-0 in state title games as a prep competitor. Since Parker entered the Chicago Public League in 2009, Simeon has become the only CPL team ever to repeat and the first to three-peat as Illinois champions.

Academic achievement: B+ average

Exemplary character: National Honor Society. Coach/Instructor, Sonny Parker Youth Foundation Basketball Academy. President of Student Representatives, Local School Council (Appointed by principal). Volunteer, Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) for social justice. Senior Citizen Youth Ambassador, The Church of Jesus Christ LDS. Volunteer youth counselor, Team Rose/Juwan Howard/Dwyane Wade youth basketball camps for inner city kids. Salvation Army volunteer, feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving. Volunteer, New Beginning Church of Chicago -- annual Christmas toy delivery. Fundraiser, Mac Irvin Fire AAU. Theology Student, The Church of Jesus Christ LDS Seminary, Hyde Park Ward (2009 – present).


SOCCER: Ema Boateng, Cate School (Carpinteria, Calif.)
Junior midfielder

Athletic excellence: Boateng earned MVP of the Premier Division at the 2011 Milk Cup in Ireland, an honor he now shares with English Premier League legends David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. Just the second boys' soccer talent in history to win Gatorade National Player of the Year as a non-senior -- and the 19th underclassman ever to win across all sports in 27 years -- his lethal finishing touch and pitch vision allowed him to average 2.2 points per game in 2012.

Academic achievement: A- average

Exemplary character: Coordinated and conducted school youth soccer camp, 2011. Cate service project participant 2009-11 (Initiatives included removal of invasive, non-native vegetation from local park, cataloguing artwork at area museum and whitewashing of historic Presidio). Cate School Student Tour Guide. De facto Dormitory Rector, 2011-12. Peer leader, Junior Class Trip, 2010.


Lance McCullers Jr. and Sean Casey
Susan Goldman/GatoradeJesuit (Tampa, Fla.) senior Lance McCullers Jr. smiles wide by his Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year trophy.
BASEBALL: Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
Senior right-handed pitcher/shortstop

Athletic excellence: Considered by Baseball America to be the most major league-ready hurler among high school draftees, McCullers averaged 1.81 strikeouts per inning, surrendered only 28 hits against the 310 batters he faced and allowed only two earned runs all season. The Houston Astros made McCullers a supplemental first-round selection in the 2012 draft, No. 41 overall.

Academic achievement: B average

Exemplary character: Volunteered with Challenger Baseball, providing diamond opportunities for physically and intellectually challenged youth. Fed homeless in association with Metropolitan Ministries. Bakas Equestrian Center assistant, helping physically and intellectually challenged youth ride horses. Head Start Program Peer Leader. Counselor, Jesuit Summer Bridge program for at-risk youth. Special Olympics. Literacy-outreach initiative volunteer. Donated time as part of multiple food drives in association with Jesuit High. Delivers Christmas trees as gifts to underprivileged during holidays.


TRACK & FIELD: Abraham Hall, South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas)
Senior sprinter

Athletic excellence: Producing one of the most impressive 100-meter/200-meter dash doubles in more than a century of high school track, Hall became one of only seven boys in high school history to rank in the top 10 of one event and the top 20 of the other. His season-best 100 would have won the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships Men’s Final, while his season-best 200 would have captured silver. In May, Hall clocked the fastest 200 by a prep boy in a half-decade and the fastest 100 since 2008.

Academic achievement: A- average

Exemplary character: Fellowship of Christian Athletes member and community service participant. Elementary school outreach ambassador.


RICH HISTORY

Multiple Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year winners have gone on to earn Olympic gold (Allyson Felix, LeBron James), Most Valuable Player awards (James, Candace Parker), collegiate Player of the Year honors (Parker, Maya Moore, Megan Hodge, Tina Charles) and All-American status.

Other past winners include three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, USA Volleyball star Cynthia Barboza, USC quarterback Matt Barkley and 2012 NBA first-round draft pick Bradley Beal. The national Gatorade Player of the Year Program was established in 1985.


PASSING THE TORCH

Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III won Gatorade Texas Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors as a high school senior in 2006-07. Now he’s presenting at this year’s AOY award ceremony along with ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, WNBA Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie (1989-90 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year) and seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning, who earned Gatorade National Player of the Year honors in 1987-88.


TOUGH DECISION

Three of this year's 12 Gatorade National Player of the Year honorees grew up within 20 miles of one another in Texas, two hail from Tampa Bay, and the other seven contenders include natives of seldom-recognized states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire and even a soccer phenom born in Ghana. But all have a shot at prep athletics’ brass ring.

A national electoral panel selects one boy and one girl among this year’s 12 student-athletes as the 2012 Gatorade Male and Female High School Athletes of the Year. Selection criteria for the award are identical to Gatorade’s National Player of the Year standards, seeking to honor athletes who excel on the field or court, as well as in the classroom and in the community. Winners are chosen on the basis of their combined athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.

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