POY WATCH: Connecticut girls basketball No. 2-ranked Kiah Gillespie heats up the court

POY WATCH: Connecticut girls basketball No. 2-ranked Kiah Gillespie heats up the court

Gatorade Player of the Year

POY WATCH: Connecticut girls basketball No. 2-ranked Kiah Gillespie heats up the court

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The window on the Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our USA TODAY team that administers the program’s selection process.

Kiah Gillespie
Sophomore forward, Capital Prep (Hartford, Conn.)

2012-13 Team record: 12-2
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 2 overall in Conn. by USA TODAY
2012-13 Points per game: 16.5
2012-13 Rebounds per game: 9.7
2012-13 Blocks per game: 1.6
2012-13 Steals per game: 1.5

Collegiate destination: HS Sophomore

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A Class S All-State performer as a freshman, Gillespie leads a young team whose top five scorers are underclassmen. She’s shooting 57 percent from the field and 80 percent from the foul line. She averaged 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a freshman for the state finalists.

Sarah Veilleux
Junior guard, RHAM (Hebron, Conn.)

2012-13 Team record: 13-2
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 8 in Class L
2012-13 Points per game: 28.7
2012-13 Rebounds per game: 10.2
2012-13 Steals per game: 3.9
2012-13 Assists per game: 3.8

Collegiate destination: HS Junior

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A member of the Hartford Courant Fab 15 and a Second Team New Haven Register All-State selection as a sophomore, Veilleux averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for last season’s Class L quarterfinalists. She’s bumped her scoring average up 10.5 points per contest.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are others who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2012-13 campaign.

Tanaya Atkinson: Junior guard, Career Magnet (New Haven, Conn.)
Diandra DaRosa: Junior guard, Somers (Somers, Conn.)
Michelle DeSantis: Senior guard, Lauralton Hall (Milford, Conn.)
Jasmyne Fogle: Senior forward, Kolbe-Cathedral (Bridgeport, Conn.)
Courtney Latham: Senior guard, Glastonbury (Glastonbury, Conn.)
Olivia Levey: Senior forward, Lauralton Hall (Milford, Conn.)
Taylor McLaughlin: Senior wing, Bacon Academy (Colchester, Conn.)
Maria Weselyj: Senior guard, Mercy (Middletown, Conn.)

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