High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Alabama

Alabama Boys Track AOY: Joseph Williams

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
5:50
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2012 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year winners, click here.


THE WINNER: Joseph Williams

THE BASICS

School: Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Event(s): Throws
Height: 6-foot-1

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Williams won the discus with a throw of 189 feet, 6.25 inches and the shot put with a mark of 58 feet, six inches at the Class 6A state championship meet this spring, leading the Jaguars to a third-place finish as a team. The state’s returning Gatorade Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year, he was also named the Birmingham Kiwanis Club Co-Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Academic excellence: Williams has maintained a 4.25 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A youth leader in his church community and a student representative in his school, he has raised funds to build wells in African villages and has participated in mission trips to Costa Rica, Haiti and Uganda.

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Alabama Girls Track AOY: Lacey Dent

June, 20, 2012
6/20/12
5:50
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2012 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For her 50 fellow Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year winners, click here.


THE WINNER: Lacey Dent

THE BASICS

School: St. Paul’s Episcopal School (Mobile, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Event(s): Hurdles/jumps/heptathlon
Height: 5-foot-7

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Dent won five individual state titles this spring and led the Saints to a seventh consecutive Class 5A state championship as a team. The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, she won the 100-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.39 seconds and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in 44.60. Dent captured the long jump (18 feet, 7.75 inches), the triple jump (39 feet, 11.75 inches) and topped the field in the heptathlon with a state record 4,881 points.

Academic excellence: Dent has maintained a 4.20 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A member of her school’s student government, she has volunteered locally on behalf of youth track programs and area homeless shelters.

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Alabama Softball POY: Haylie McCleney

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
5:48
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For her 48 fellow Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Haylie McCleney

THE BASICS

School: Mortimer Jordan (Kimberly, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Centerfielder
Height: 5-foot-4

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: McCleney compiled a state-record .692 batting average with nine home runs, 64 runs scored and 28 RBI this past season, leading the Blue Devils (25-18) to the Class 5A state finals. A three-time First Team All-State selection, she also stole 65 bases in 66 attempts. As a junior, McCleney was the Birmingham News Girls Metro Athlete of the Year and was named to the Super All-State team.

Academic excellence: McCleney has maintained a 4.37 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A member of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, she has volunteered in her area on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

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The window on the Gatorade State Softball 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.

Kasey Cooper
Junior Pitcher, Dothan High (Dothan, AL)

2012 Team record: 41-17
2012 Team standing: Finished third in Class 6A

2012 Batting average: .599
2012 RBI: 58
2012 Runs: 72

2012 W-L record: 28-11
2012 ERA: 0.99
2012 Strikeouts: 344

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Auburn (verbal)

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Super All-State Team; All-State Tournament team; Tied state single season record with 106 hits.

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Alabama Baseball POY: Mikey White

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
5:47
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For his 47 fellow Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Mikey White

THE BASICS

School: Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: IF/RHP
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 190 pounds

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: White batted .389 with nine home runs and 37 RBI this past season, leading the Jaguars (35-17) to the Class 6A state semifinals. A returning Class 6A First Team All-State selection as named by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, he recorded a .712 slugging percentage and .524 on-base percentage. White owned an 8-2 record with two saves, a 1.13 ERA and 61 strikeouts against nine walks in 55.2 innings pitched. He captured a gold medal at the Pan American Games this past summer as a member of the 2011 USA Baseball 18U National Team.

Academic excellence: White has maintained a 3.53 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth baseball instructor, he has volunteered locally on behalf of his church’s youth group, as a featured speaker at a Christian youth conference, on An Audience of ONE’s leadership council and as a mentor to a special needs graduate assistant manager for his school’s baseball program.

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Alabama Girls Soccer POY: Bailee Harnett

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
5:27
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed this spring's Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2012 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For her 27 fellow Gatorade State Spring Girls Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.
For the 22 Gatorade State Fall Girls Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Bailee Harnett

THE BASICS

School: Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-foot-5

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Harnett led the Eagles to a 28-2 record and the Class 6A state title this past season. She scored 29 goals and passed for 33 assists, including three goals and four assists in Oak Mountain’s five-game run in the state tournament. A 2011 Birmingham News All-Metro selection, Harnett made the All-Tournament Team at the 2012 Southern Shootout and Lakeshore Shootout. She concluded her prep soccer career with 39 goals and 46 assists.

Academic excellence: Harnett has maintained a 3.88 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A member of the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, she has volunteered locally with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham and at The Regions Tradition golf tournament to support Children’s of Alabama hospital.

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Eye on POY: Alabama baseball

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
6:03
PM ET
The window on the Gatorade State Baseball 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.

Toby Thomas
Senior right-handed pitcher/shortstop, Fairhope (Ala.)

2012 Team record: 38-7 (Class 6A)
2012 Team standing: Lost Class 6A state final to Oxford, 0-2, 5-3 and 7-12; Ranked No. 30 on ESPNHS FAB 50

2012 W-L record: 11-1
2012 ERA: 0.46
2012 Strikeouts: 128

2012 Batting average: .347
2012 RBI: 42
2012 Runs: 40

Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Pensacola State College

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Finished 4-1 with a 0.88 ERA and 51 strikeouts against six walks in 32 innings pitched over five playoff starts on the mound. Averaged 1.7 strikeouts per inning. 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason First Team All-American as named by Collegiate Baseball. 2012 Preseason Honorable Mention All-Region selection as named by Perfect Game USA. 2011 Perfect Game USA Preseason Underclassmen Honorable Mention All-American selection.

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Eye on POY: Alabama girls soccer

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
10:39
AM ET
The window on the Gatorade State Girls Soccer 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.

Bailee Harnett
Senior midfielder, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)

2012 Team record: 28-2
2012 Team standing: Class 6A state champions

2012 Goals: 29
2012 Assists: 33
Career goals: 39
Career assists: 46

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Air Force Academy

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 2.2 points per game this season. Leading scorer on state title team. 2011 All-Metro selection as named by The Birmingham News. 2011 Class 6A Second Team All-State selection.

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Alabama Boys Soccer POY: Jack Hopkins

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
5:19
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed this spring's Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For his 19 fellow Gatorade State Spring Boys Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.
For the 30 Gatorade State Fall Boys Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Jack Hopkins

THE BASICS

School: Vestavia Hills (Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 170 pounds

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Hopkins scored 29 goals and passed for 28 assists this past season, leading the Rebels (26-3) to the Class 6A state semifinals for a second straight year. The 2011 Birmingham News Boys Metro South Player of the Year, he recorded four goals and five assists in the Class 6A state tournament. Hopkins concluded his prep soccer career with 88 goals and 59 assists.

Academic excellence: Hopkins has maintained a 3.9 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A member of the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, he has volunteered locally with Habitat for Humanity and as a youth soccer coach.

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Eye on POY: Alabama boys soccer

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
11:28
AM ET
The window on the Gatorade State Boys Soccer 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.

Tim Harbison
Senior midfielder, Auburn (Ala.)

2012 Team record: 24-1-1
2012 Team standing: Class 6A state semifinal vs. Enterprise (Ala.) on Friday

2012 Goals: 11
2012 Assists: 23
Career goals: 69
Career assists: 89

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Virginia's Liberty University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2011 First Team All-Southern Alabama selection. Team has outscored opponents 126-12.

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Return of the POY: Alabama's Keegan Thompson

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
3:58
PM ET
The Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year selection process is in full swing, 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: Keegan Thompson
School: Cullman (Ala.)

Grade: Junior
Position: Right-handed pitcher/shortstop

Height: 6-foot
Weight: 165 pounds

2011 W-L-S: 8-1-0
2011 IP: 72
2011 ERA: 1.46
2011 K-BB: 107-14

2011 BA: .423
2011 HR: 15
2011 RBI: 61
2011 R: 54

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Alabama Baseball Player of the Year. No. 20 ranked prospect in Class of 2013 as rated by ESPNHS. Led the Bearcats (45-11) to the 2011 Class 5A state championship series. 2011 Class 5A First Team All-State selection as named by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. 2010 ASWA Class 5A Honorable Mention All-State selection.

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Return of the POY: Alabama's Simone Charley

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
4:19
PM ET
The Gatorade State Girls Soccer Players of the Year spring selection process is in full swing, 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: Simone Charley
School: Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.)

Grade: Junior
Position: Forward

2011 Goals: 31
2011 Assists: 16

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Alabama Girls Soccer Player of the Year. 2011 Metro Player of the Year as named by the Birmingham News. 2011 First Team All-State selection. Led the Jaguars (25-3-1) to a third consecutive Class 6A state championship as a sophomore. 2011 Class 6A state triple jump champion. 2010 Honorable Mention All-State selection.

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Alabama Boys Hoop POY: Craig Sword

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
5:50
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Craig Sword

THE BASICS

School: Carver (Montgomery, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Guard
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 183 pounds

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Sword led the Wolverines to a 29-3 record and the Class 6A state championship this past season. He amassed 33 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 61-56, title-clinching victory against Hazel Green (Ala.), capturing tournament Most Valuable Player honors. A two-time returning First Team All-State selection as named by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, Sword averaged 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, five steals and four blocks per game. He shot 65 percent from the field, 52 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line.

Academic excellence: Sword has maintained a 3.08 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: In addition to serving as a youth basketball instructor, he has volunteered locally at his church, multiple retirement facilities and field days for both elementary and middle school children. Sword has also donated his time on behalf of the Boys & Girls Club of America and as part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America campaign.

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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.

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Alabama Girls Hoop POY: Jasmine Jones

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
5:01
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For her 50 fellow Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Jasmine Jones

THE BASICS

School: Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Wing
Height: 6-foot-2

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Jones averaged 21 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor this past season, leading the Patriots (36-3) to the Class 6A state final. A 2012 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America Game selection, she is ranked as the nation’s No. 39 on the HoopGurlz ESPNU 100.

Academic excellence: Jones has maintained a 3.07 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A devoted member of her church community, she has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach.

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