For a list of the other Gatorade State Girls Basketball POYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Jessica Shepard
School: Lincoln Southeast (Lincoln, Neb.)
Athletic achievement: She led the Knights to a 24-3 record and the Class A state championship this past season. A returning First Team Super-State selection as named by The Lincoln Journal Star, Shepard averaged 24.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals per game. She amassed 26 points, 19 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and a steal in a 65-57, title-clinching victory against Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.). Her 81 points in three state tournament games set a Class A record.
Academic excellence: Shepard has maintained a 3.84 GPA.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally on behalf of her church, People’s City Mission, the Center for People in Need and Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach.
“Jess is far and away the best player in this year’s field,” said Jon Perone, head coach of rival Benson (Omaha, Neb.). “Her versatility to handle the ball, come out and play on the perimeter, and score in the post is unique. Her size and ability cause matchup problems everywhere. Most importantly, Shepard sees the game and feels the game so well, her basketball IQ is second to none and that is why she is such a dominant player.”
THE FUTURE: Shepard will be a junior next year and has verbally committed to Nebraska.