In 1985, Gatorade established an award honoring the nation's top high school student-athletes. Since then, the Gatorade Player of the Year award has recognized more than 12,500 state and national winners in 12 sports.
Gatorade Player of the Year alumni include household names like Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach — a distinguished group, indeed.
This week, we're catching up with Brittney Griner.
There is sure to be continued debate in the foreseeable future about what heights Brittney Griner could potentially reach in her basketball career. But what should never be forgotten is what the 6-foot-8 sensation has already accomplished on the court.
In fact, there’s no debate about it. Griner is one of the best female college basketball players ever to grace the hardwood.
Despite a stunning upset loss to Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen of this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Baylor star concluded her collegiate career with an eye-popping list of accolades.
The 2008-09 Gatorade Texas Girls Basketball Player of the Year amassed 3,269 career points (second in women’s NCAA Division I history) and 748 blocked shots (a record for both NCAA men and women) since graduating from Houston’s Nimitz High in 2009.
The first player in NCAA history to amass 2,000 points and 500 blocks, Griner also owns the women’s record for dunks in a career (18), shattering two-time Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Candace Parker’s previous standard of seven.
With Griner leading the way, Baylor posted a 74-2 record in her final two seasons, including an unmatched 40-0 national championship season as a junior in 2012. Earlier this week, she captured a second consecutive Naismith Trophy as the Women’s College Player of the Year, becoming the seventh player in history to win the award in multiple seasons. She joined fellow Gatorade POYs Dawn Staley (1987-88, Pennsylvania), Chamique Holdsclaw (1993-94, 1994-95, New York),Diana Taurasi (1998-1999, 1999-2000, California) and Maya Moore (2005-06, 2006-07 AOY, Georgia), among others.
Griner’s resume is impressive, for sure. What does it mean for her future? It has sparked considerable speculation about whether she could become the first female to ever play in the NBA.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently announced that he would seriously consider drafting Griner, who welcomed the opportunity on Twitter. Count Miami Heat forward Shane Battier, who also happens to be the 1996-97 Gatorade Michigan Boys Basketball Player of the Year, among those who believe it’s only a matter of time before a female suits up for an NBA team.
"I don't know if it's Griner or if it's someone who is five years old right now," Battier told ESPN.com. "But we'll see it. It'll happen in our lifetime. Just the law of averages."
Regardless of what the future holds for Griner, her place in history is secure. She’s the latest in an ever-growing list of Gatorade honorees who have tasted unparalleled success on the next level.