For a list of the other Gatorade State Girls Basketball POYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Mercedes Russell
School: Springfield (Ore.)
Athletic achievement: The returning Gatorade Player of the Year, she averaged 25.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 5.5 blocks, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 70.3 percent from the field this past season and led the Millers (24-4) to the Class 5A state championship game. A McDonald’s All-American Game selection, a 2013 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America Game invitee and a two-time Class 5A State Player of the Year, Russell was a finalist for the Naismith Girl’s High School Player of the Year Award. She concluded her prep basketball career with 2,273 points, 1,642 rebounds and 562 blocked shots.
Academic excellence: Russell has maintained a 3.15 GPA.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally on behalf of Oregon Amateur Basketball, the Special Olympics, a community beautification project and an elementary education literacy-outreach program. She has also donated her time coaching youth basketball and serving the needy during annual holiday seasons.
“Mercedes is just really athletic, has a great sense of timing and causes you not only to change your defense but, more importantly, your offense,” said Paul Brothers, head coach of Willamette (Eugene, Ore.). “You can talk all you want about her ability to score and rebound, but I think she allows everyone on their team to gamble on defense because she’s there to swat away anything near the key.”
THE FUTURE: Russell will attend Tennessee.