When two-time WNBA champion Maya Moore ducked into Brianna Turner’s Manvel (Texas) High classroom on Thursday, there was instant recognition by the Mavericks’ senior forward. But Moore was there to reverse that equation, surprising the teen with the 2013-14 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award.
“I’m pretty shocked,” said Turner, 17, a Notre Dame commit. “Usually I’m out in front of stuff and know what’s coming, but Maya Moore walking into my classroom and presenting that trophy? I didn’t see that coming. All I’m thinking about now is how I can take this momentum to Notre Dame next year. The players who have won this award, I watch play on TV and that’s humbling.”
The 6-foot-3 wing led the Mavericks to a 38-2 record and the Class 5A state championship this past season, averaging 20.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 3.9 blocks and 3.7 steals in just 23 minutes per game.Turner has also captured five gold medals with Team USA, including the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship as well as the 2013 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship.
“It’s so special to be a part of this,” said Moore, 24, a four-time All-American at UConn who won Gatorade national honors in 2007. “It brings back a lot of memories to see a player and her school and her community so excited. Every opportunity in our society to recognize women athletes for their ability, academics and character should be celebrated.”
A McDonald’s High School All-American Game selection and a WBCA All-American, Turner scored 17 points on only six field goal attempts to go along with 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 58-53, title-clinching upset of Duncanville. She captured MVP honors at the state final. The Panthers had won 105 straight games before falling to Tuner and Manvel.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. Turner is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Turner has maintained a 3.73 GPA in the classroom. An active member of Manvel’s Friends of Rachel Club, a chapter of the national Rachel’s Challenge student-empowerment organization, she has volunteered on behalf of the Houston Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and the RCS Sports back-to-school charity drive for students in need.
Turner becomes the 28th prep athlete from Texas to win national Gatorade honors in any sport, second only to California’s 60. She joins a distinguished list of national-winner alumni from the Lone Star State, including two-time Cy Young Award-winner Clayton Kershaw (Highland Park, Dallas), who won in 2006, current University of Texas running back Johnathan Gray (Aledo), the 2011 winner in football, and Olympic track and field silver medalist Kerron Clement (LaPorte), who won in 2003.
Behind California and Texas, Florida—with 20—has produced the next-most national winners in the award program’s 29-year history followed by Illinois (15), Indiana (12) and Virginia (10).