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 top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our USA TODAY team that administers the program’s selection process.
Senior guard, Buford (Ga.)
2012-13 Team record: 11-3 (Class 3A)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 9 in Georgia as rated by USA TODAY
2011-12 Points per game: 18.5
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.3
2011-12 Assists per game: 2.0
2011-12 Steals per game: 2.0
Collegiate destination: Georgia Tech (signed)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A Preseason All-USA selection as named by USA TODAY, the 6-foot-2 guard helped Norcross (Ga.) to the Class 5A state championship as a freshman before transferring to Buford, where she led the Wolves to the Class 2A state title as a sophomore and a state semifinals appearance as a junior last season. The daughter of former NBA player Antonio Davis, she averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in eight games during USA Basketball’s gold medal run at the 2012 FIBA Women’s U17 World Championships. Davis is ranked the nation’s No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2013 by Blue Star Basketball.
Senior guard/forward, Norcross (Ga.)
2012-13 Team record: 14-2 (Class 6A)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 2 in Georgia as rated by USA TODAY
2011-12 Points per game: 21.8
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 6.2
2011-12 Assists per game: 3.3
Collegiate destination: North Carolina (signed)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A returning Second Team All-USA selection as named by USA TODAY, the 6-foot-2 senior wing led the Blue Devils to a Class 5A state semifinals appearance as a junior last season after winning state titles in 2010 and 2011. The state’s 2010-11 Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year as a sophomore, DeShields captured MVP honors on the USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team this past summer. She is the No. 1 ranked national recruit in the Class of 2013 as rated by Blue Star Basketball.
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 some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2012-13 campaign.
Lexie Brown: Senior point guard, North Gwinnett (Sugar Hill, Ga.)
Shayla Cooper: Senior forward, Norcross (Ga.)
Allisha Gray: Senior guard, Washington County (Sandersville, Ga.)
Kristina Nelson: Senior post, Buford (Ga.)
Sydney Umeri: Senior forward, The Lovett School (Atlanta, Ga.)