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 forward, Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A member of the elite Tennessee Flight AAU squad, the 6-foot-1 forward is the state’s top-ranked senior, according to Blue Star Basketball. Davis scored 38 points in a recent win over Whitehaven (Memphis, Tenn.), recording her 10th 30-point game of the season (including a 41-point night against Memphis-based Hamilton in early January).
2012-13 Team record: 17-4 (Class AAA)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 8 in Tennessee’s Class AAA in the USA TODAY Super 25
2011-12 Points per game: 19.4
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 9.0
2011-12 Steals per game: 3.6
2011-12 Assists per game: 2.5
Collegiate destination: Baylor
Junior point guard, Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Ranked No. 19 in the Class of 2014 (as rated by Blue Star Basketball), Middleton amassed 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in a win over Memphis Central that helped launch the Warriors into the USA TODAY Super 25 top five national rankings. A participant in the USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team Trials this past summer, she helped lead Riverdale to the 2012 Class AAA state title as a sophomore.
2012-13 Team record: 23-0 (Class AAA)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 5 nationally in the USA TODAY Super 25
2011-12 Points per game: 14.0
2011-12 Assists per game: 3.1
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 2.1
Collegiate destination: Undecided
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 more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2012-13 campaign.
Jaycee Coe: Junior forward, Jackson County (Gainesboro, Tenn.)
Shelbie Davenport: Junior wing, Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Olivia Jones: Senior guard, Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Paris Lawson: Freshman point guard, Siegel (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Derika Whyatt: Senior guard, Franklin Road Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.)