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 girls basketball winners.
This week we're catching up with Skylar Diggins
It should hardly come as a surprise that No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Connecticut produced the game of the year in women’s college basketball on Monday, a 96-87 triple-overtime Fighting Irish win.
Consider the Gatorade hardware that suited up that night: 10 players who combined for 16 state Player of the Year awards as well as three Gatorade National Player of the Year awards.
Heather Buck (Conn., 06-07, 07-08)
Bria Hartley (N.Y., 08-09, 09-10)
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Calif., 08-09, 10-11; NPOY, 10-11)
Breanna Stewart (N.Y., 10-11, 11-12; NPOY 11-12)
Kiah Stokes (Iowa, 09-10, 10-11)
Morgan Tuck (Ill., 11-12)
Madison Cable (Penn., 10-11)
Skylar Diggins (Ind., 07-08, 08-09; NPOY, 08-09)
Michaela Mabrey (N.J., 11-12)
Kayla McBride (Penn., 09-10)
UConn sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the 2010-11 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year, played all 55 minutes for the Huskies and finished with 26 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
But the star of the show was Notre Dame senior Skylar Diggins. Like Mosqueda-Lewis, Diggins played all 55 minutes, leading the Irish back from eight down in the second half, six down in the first overtime and five down in the second overtime. In her final home game, the 2008-09 National Player of the Year recorded 29 points, 11 rebounds and four steals.
Diggins is in the final weeks of an exceptional college basketball career. The three-time All-American has been everything the Irish could have hoped for when she moved across town from Washington (South Bend, Ind.) to the Notre Dame campus. Diggins has come up short of only one goal – a national championship. The Irish have lost in the past two title games.
Will this year be any different? Winners of 23 straight games heading into the Big East Tournament, which begins Friday in Hartford, Conn., the Irish are again on a short list of national title contenders.
As has been the case since she first stepped on the court for the Irish, Diggins leads the way for Notre Dame. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging a career-high 17.3 points and 5.9 assists per game. With 2,229 points, Diggins is less than 100 points away from becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer. She is already the school’s all-time leader in steals (353) and third in assists (691).
All she has left is winning a national title.