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
School: Carver (Montgomery, Ala.)
Weight: 183 pounds
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.
“Craig Sword has been an outstanding player and individual in the four years we have competed against him,” said Floyd Mathews, head coach at Lanier (Montgomery, Ala.). “He played the two for Carver, but he was more of a one. He can do a lot of things. He has improved on his outside game, so you must respect all parts of his game. He led his team to a state title, and he absolutely took over in the championship game.”
THE FUTURE: Sword has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at Mississippi State University this fall.