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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Eye on POY: Florida girls basketball

By Ben Rohrbach

The window on the Gatorade State Girls 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.

Eye on POY, Niya Johnson, P.K. Yonge, girls, Florida
Senior point guard Niya Johnson led P.K. Yonge (Gainesville, Fla.) to the Class 3A state championship.
Niya Johnson
Senior point guard, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School (Gainesville, Fla.)

2011-12 Team record: 30-1
(Class 3A)
2011-12 Team standing: Class 3A state champions

2011-12 Points per game: 19.9
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.4
2011-12 Assists per game: 5.7
2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.2
2011-12 Steals per game: 4.7

Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Baylor University

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Totaled 24 points, six steals, five assists and four rebounds in a 58-43 win over Parkway Academy (Miramar, Fla.) in the Class 3A state title game. Shot 50 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and 73 percent from the free throw line. No. 43 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS. 2012 McDonald’s All-American. 2012 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association High School All-America Honorable Mention. 2010 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team trials roster. 2011 Nike National All-Tournament Second Team selection as named by ESPNHS.

Taryn Griffey
Sophomore point guard, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)

2011-12 Team record: 29-3 (Class 8A)
2011-12 Team standing: Class 8A state champions; Ranked No. 30 on ESPNHS FAB 50

2011-12 Points per game: 16.4
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.9
2011-12 Assists per game: 4.7
2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.2
2011-12 Steals per game: 3.4

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Amassed 17 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and three steals in a 72-50 victory against Dr. Krop (Ives Estates, Fla.) in the Class 8A state championship game. Shot 56 percent from the field, 49 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the free throw line. Set single-season school record for 3-pointers made. No. 12 ranked point guard in Class of 2014 as rated by ESPNHS. 2011 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team trials roster.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls 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.

Alexis Prince: Senior guard/forward, Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.)
Ieshia Small: Junior guard/forward, Dr. Krop (Ives Estates, Fla.)
Ronni Williams: Junior guard/forward, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.)

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.