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Eye on POY: Nebraska boys basketball

3/8/2012

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.

Mike Gesell

Senior point guard,

South Sioux City (Neb.)

2011-12 Team record: 17-6 (Class B)

2011-12 Team standing: Class B state quarterfinal vs. Crete on Thursday

2011-12 Points per game: 26.5

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 4.8

2011-12 Assists per game: 7.2

2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.3

2011-12 Steals per game: 2.6

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination:

University of Iowa

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in a pair of Class B, District 3 tournament victories. Playing a slate of opponents that possessed a .687 winning percentage, 2010-11 Gatorade Nebraska Boys Basketball Player of the Year. No. 84 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 Super-State captain as named by the Lincoln Journal Star. 2011 All-Nebraska captain as named by the Omaha World-Herald. 2010 First Team Super-State selection as named by the Lincoln Journal Star. 2010 First Team All-Nebraska selection as named by the Omaha World-Herald. 2010 and 2011 Class B state tournament MVP. 2010 and 2011 Class B state champion.

Jalen Bradley

Senior point guard, Norfolk (Neb.)

2011-12 Team record: 24-1 (Class A)

2011-12 Team standing: Class A state quarterfinal vs. Omaha South on Thursday

2011-12 Points per game: 22.0

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 3.5

2011-12 Assists per game: 4.7

2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.1

2011-12 Steals per game: 2.1

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 25.5 points in two Class A, District 2 tournament wins. Has shot 47 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range and 94 percent from the free throw line. 2011 First Team All-Nebraska selection as named by the Omaha World-Herald. 2011 First Team Super-State selection as named by the Lincoln Journal Star. 2010 and 2011 All-State Tournament selection.

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.

Akoy Agau: Junior power forward, Central (Omaha, Neb.)

Darian Barrientos-Jackson: Senior guard, Central (Omaha, Neb.)

Austin Groth: Senior guard, South Sioux City (Neb.)

TraDeon Hollins: Junior guard, Central (Omaha, Neb.)

Trey Moore: Senior guard, Papillion-La Vista (Papillion, Neb.)

Drew Ott: Senior power forward, Giltner (Neb.)

Devon Watts: Senior guard, Boys Town (Neb.)

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.