For a list of the other Gatorade State Girls Basketball POYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Ariel Atkins
School: Duncanville (Texas)
Athletic achievement: Atkins led Duncanville to a 42-0 record and a second consecutive Class 5A state title this past season. She averaged 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 steals, 4.5 assists and 1 block per game. The District 7-5A Most Valuable Player shot 55 percent from the floor, 48 percent from 3-point range and 78 percent from the free throw line. She recorded 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes during a 59-36 championship win over Steele (Cibolo, Texas), earning All-Tournament Team honors.
Academic excellence: Atkins has maintained a 3.53 GPA.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth basketball instructor, coach and game-clock operator, Atkins has volunteered on behalf of a blood-donation drive, an elementary school student-mentorship program, the National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“She is one of those rare greats who makes her teammates better,” said Kit Martin, coach at rival Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas). “She can score at will from the block to the 3-point arc. She is a tremendous passer in the open court and in half-court offense. She is a good defender and rebounder as well. I can with the utmost conviction tell you that she is the best player in Texas right now.”
THE FUTURE: Atkins will be a senior next year and has committed to Texas.