Back in 1985, Gatorade established an award honoring the nation's top high school student-athletes. Since then, the Gatorade Player of the Year award has recognized more than 12,500 state and national winners in 12 sports.
Gatorade Player of the Year alumni include household names like Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach—a distinguished group, indeed.
This week, we're catching up with former Gatorade Girls Basketball Players of the Year in the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
You’ve heard of the Final Four, the Elite Eight and the Sweet Sixteen, but if you’ve followed the recent careers of some of the top collegiate women’s basketball players in the nation, you’re undoubtedly familiar with a little something we’ll call the Fab Fifteen.
Those paying close attention to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament would have counted 15 former Gatorade Girls Basketball Players of the Year—including three national winners—on the rosters of the last four teams left standing.
UConn sophomore Breanna Stewart led the way, guiding the Huskies to a record ninth NCAA title and a 40-0 record this past season. She collected 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists in Tuesday’s 79-58 rout of Notre Dame in the championship game, capturing her second Most Outstanding Player trophy. Maybe she can sandwich them around the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award she won as a Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, NY) senior in 2012.
Of course, Stewart wasn’t the only Gatorade honoree with a hand in UConn’s unprecedented excellence. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis earned Gatorade National POY honors in 2011 for Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) while former Linn-Mar (Iowa) star Kiah Stokes and North Babylon (N.Y.) standout Bria Hartley each won a pair of state awards. All three played significant roles in defeating the Irish, as Mosqueda-Lewis scored 18 points, Hartley netted 13 and Stokes added four in the title victory. Additionally, freshman Saniya Chong, who averaged 4.7 points per game this season, was last year’s Gatorade New York Girls Basketball Player of the Year at Ossining (N.Y.).
Notre Dame, meanwhile, featured its own quartet of Gatorade winners, led by Erie (Pa.) Villa Maria Academy product Kayla McBride (2010, Pennsylvania), who paced the Irish with 21 points in the season-ending loss to UConn. Lindsay Allen (2013, D.C.), Michaela Mabrey (2012, New Jersey) and Madison Cable (2011, Pennsylvania) round out the rest of Notre Dame’s Gatorade alumni.
The Final Four also marked the end of a remarkable collegiate career for Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, whose Cardinal fell victim to UConn in the semifinals. The 2009-10 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year from Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair concludes her Stanford tenure as one of the greatest players in program history, collecting Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive POY honors each of the past two seasons. She averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds per game as a senior. We hear she’s also pretty tight with Condoleezza Riceand is the creative force behind Stanford’s #NerdAnthem viral video sensation. In other words, she keeps herself pretty busy.
Ogwumike’s teammates Mikaela Ruef (2009, Ohio) andErica McCall (2013, California) represent the rest of Stanford’s Gatorade winners.
Maryland, meanwhile, featured a trio of Gatorade alumni during the Terrapins’ run to the Final Four: Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (2013, Pennsylvania), Malina Howard (2012, Ohio) and Laurin Mincy (2009, New Jersey). The Terps ultimately lost to Notre Dame, 87-61.