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 the NBA All-Rookie selections.
Of the 10 players selected to the NBA All-Rookie teams, five are former Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year winners.
Bradley Beal, who received 28-of-29 possible first-team votes from the league’s coaches, headlines that group. Beal captured back-to-back Gatorade Missouri Player of the Year honors, including 2010-11 National POY recognition upon averaging 32.4 points on 73 percent shooting as a Chaminade Prep (St. Louis, Mo.) senior.
Two-time Gatorade Iowa Player of the Year Harrison Barnes joined Beal on the First Team. Barnes, whose Golden State Warriors are still alive in the Western Conference semifinals, led Ames High to back-to-back Class 4A state titles and nearly dethroned 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team pick Brandon Knight for National POY honors in 2010.
This year’s All-Rookie Second Team features three more Gatorade State POY recipients: two-time New Jersey winner Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2008-09, 2010-11), Connecticut prep standout Andre Drummond (2010-11) and Indiana 7-foot high school sensation Tyler Zeller, whose brother Cody captured 2010-11 POY honors.
Obviously, Second Team pick Jonas Valanciunas wasn’t eligible for a Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year in Lithuania.
Meanwhile, unanimous All-Rookie First Team selection Damian Lillard and Second Team pick Kyle Singler respectively lost out as prep seniors to Gatorade National Player of the Year selections Jrue Holiday (2007-08) and Kevin Love (2006-07) — a pair of NBA All-Stars. Likewise, 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving edged out Dion Waiters (and Kidd-Gilchrist) for 2009-10 New Jersey Player of the Year.
Finally, Anthony Davis, who battled injuries on a Perspectives Charters School (Chicago, Ill.) team that finished 6-19 in his senior season, finished behind 2010-11 Illinois POY Chasson Randle, a Pac-10 All-Academic honoree as a Stanford sophomore this past winter.