Back 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 Kobe, LeBron, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach — a distinguished group, indeed.
This week we're catching up with Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Kris Humphries, J.J. Redick and Eric Gordon.
Some big names have hit the NBA trade market before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline, and most have Gatorade Player of the Year ties.
The most high-profile name on the list of available players was Lakers center Dwight Howard, who had been rumored to be part of a conversation that included Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, but general manager Mitch Kupchak has since said the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is going nowhere. Howard won Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors in 2003-04, when he averaged 25 points, 18 rebounds, eight blocks and 3.5 assists while leading Southwest Atlanta (Ga.) Christian Academy to the state title.
Next up is Hawks forward Josh Smith, who has been linked to deals involving the Nets, Bucks, Suns and Celtics, among other teams. Smith won 2003-04 Gatorade Virginia Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors as a senior at Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Academy. He was Howard’s AAU teammate.
Interestingly, the reported Nets package for Smith would include Kris Humphries, who won back-to-back Gatorade honors in Minnesota from 2002-04. He averaged 25.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in leading Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) to the state championship as a senior.
Similarly, a long list of teams have inquired about Magic guard J.J. Redick. The former Duke standout won back-to-back Gatorade Virginia Boys Basketball Player of the Year, culminating in 43 points in a state title victory during the final game of his Cave Springs (Roanoke, Va.) career.
The Hornets seem interested in dealing Eric Gordon, who captured 2006-07 Gatorade Indiana Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors after averaging 29 points, six boards and three assists for North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.).
More names will surely arise before the deadline expires on Thursday, and if history is any indication, the list is sure to include additional POY alumni.