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 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 handfuls of men’s college basketball stars.
If the Heat’s NBA success is any indication, choosing winners based on Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year success isn’t such bad logic to apply to your NCAA bracket.
If you do, keep in mind Duke features five Gatorade winners on its roster: North Carolina’s Ryan Kelly (2008-09), Maryland’s Jeff Hairston (2009-10), Washington D.C.’s Tyler Thornton (2009-10), North Carolina’s Marshall Plumlee (2010-11) and Pennsylvania’s Amile Jefferson (2010-11, ’11-12).
Applying that same logic, we reckon the No. 16 seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament once again have no shot at beating a top seed.
All four No. 1 seeds include at least one former POY winner while none of the 16 seeds feature a single alumnus.
Gonzaga, Indiana and Kansas all feature a pair of state POYs, and Louisville features 2008-09 Gatorade Washington Boys Basketball Player of the Year Peyton Siva.
Two-time Idaho winner Kyle Dranginis (2009-10, ’10-11) and former Washington honoree Gary Bell Jr. (2010-11) lead the Bulldogs. Indiana prep sensations Jordan Hulls (2008-09) and Cody Zeller (2010-11) shine for their home-state Hoosiers. And Kansas high school products Travis Releford (2007-08) and Perry Ellis (2008-09, ’09-10, ’10-11, ’11-12) play for the Jayhawks.
In each of the 1-16, 2-15 and 3-14 matchups, the team with the better seed has more Gatorade winners on its roster. But No. 13 South Dakota State bucks the trend with two Players of the Year – home-state winners Tony Fiegen (2008-09) and Zach Horstman (2010-11) – compared to No. 4 Michigan’s lone POY, 2008-09 Illinois winner Matt Vogrich.