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Eye on POY: Kentucky boys basketball

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.

Nathan Dieudonne

Senior small forward, Trinity (Louisville, Ky.)

2011-12 Team record: 31-3

2011-12 Team standing: No. 43 ranked team on ESPNHS FAB 50; Sweet Sixteen vs. Bullitt East on Friday

2011-12 Points per game: 13.5

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.6

2011-12 Assists per game: 1.4

2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.7

2011-12 Steals per game: 1.4

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: Boston University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the district and regional tournaments. Produces 22.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per 32 minutes. Leads state's No. 1 ranked team in scoring and rebounding. Shooting 60 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. Scores his 13.5 points on just 8.5 shots per game. 2012 Seventh Region Player of the Year. 2011 Honorable Mention All-State selection as named by The Courier-Journal.

Tamron Manning

Senior shooting guard, Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.)

2011-12 Team record: 31-4

2011-12 Team standing: Sweet Sixteen vs. Marshall County on Thursday

2011-12 Points per game: 15.5

2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.7

2011-12 Assists per game: 2.5

2011-12 Blocks per game: 0.9

2011-12 Steals per game: 2.8

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: Marshall University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 17.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in the district and regional tournaments. Shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. His 15.5 points and 2.5 assists produce 27.2 percent of Scott County's 75.4 points per game. No. 55 ranked shooting guard in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 Third Team All-State selection as named by The Courier-Journal.

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.

Charles Foster: Senior guard, Trinity (Louisville, Ky.)

Dominique Hawkins: Junior point guard, Madison Central (Richmond, Ky.)

Isaiah Ivey: Senior shooting guard, Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.)

Mekale McKay: Senior forward, Moore (Louisville, Ky.)

Derek Willis: Junior power forward, Bullitt East (Mount Washington, Ky.)

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.