Legacy. Tradition. A who’s who of American sport. As the Gatorade Player of the Year program celebrates its 30th anniversary year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, fans can count many a household name on the roster of former award-winners. Over the past three decades, prep sports’ most esteemed honor boasts Super Bowl, World Series, NBA, WNBA, MLS Cup, NCAA and Olympic champions among more than 13,000 State Players of the Year and 270 National POYs across 12 sports. Let’s not forget the scores of program alumni who have gone on to capture league-MVP, All-Star and All-American recognition. Today, we’re catching up with Division III women’s basketball champion Sydney Moss.
While more than a dozen former Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year winners get set for next weekend’s Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla., another alumnae has already secured herself a national title this season.
Sydney Moss, the 2011-12 Gatorade Kentucky Girls Basketball Player of the Year, completed a dominant season in stunning fashion, recording a triple-double as Thomas More College (Crestview Hills, Ky.) knocked off unbeaten George Fox University (Newberg, Ore.), 83-63, in the Division III national championship game to complete a perfect season.
A junior guard and forward, the 5-foot-10 Moss collected 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists as the Saints (33-0) raced to an early lead over George Fox and never looked back. The final was an exclamation point on a postseason for the ages for Moss, who set an all-NCAA standard for men and women by scoring 197 points in six NCAA Tournament games.
“She was a difference-maker,” George Fox coach Michael Meek told USA TODAY High School Sports. Meek is no stranger to the Gatorade program, as former Beaverton (Ore.) Southridge High standouts J.J. Hones (2005-06) and Michelle Jenkins (2006-07) took home POY honors on his watch during his 10 seasons as a prep coach before George Fox hired him in 2010.
The two-time Division III Player of the Year as selected by D3hoops.com and the Women’s DIII News, Moss transferred to Thomas More after an SEC All-Freshman campaign at the University of Florida, where she ranked second on the Gators in scoring (11.8) and rebounding (6.8). That followed a senior prep season at Florence (Ky.) Boone County High, located less than five miles from the Thomas More campus, where Moss averaged 23.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 4.1 steals per game.
In her first year at Thomas More, Moss led the nation in scoring, averaging 27.8 points per game while leading the Saints to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. Moss’ scoring average dropped this season to 24.2 points per game, but that was good enough to lead the country once again. She also chipped in with 7.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
The daughter of former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss, who earned a total of three Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year awards in football and basketball from 1993-95, Sydney Moss saved her best for this year’s tourney. She went off for 40 points and 13 boards in an 83-61, opening-round win over Greensboro (N.C.) College and followed with 43 points and 11 rebounds in an 85-65 win over Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.). The Round of 16 saw Moss pour in 37 points in a 103-90 win over Washington University of St. Louis, and the Saints reached the Final Four as Moss tossed in 35 points with nine rebounds and four assists in a 62-52 win over previously unbeaten University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minn.).
Tufts University (Medford, Mass.) “held” Moss to 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals in Thomas More’s 62-52 win in the national semifinals. That set up the first national title game in the 34-year history of the Division III Women’s Tournament to include two undefeated teams. The game didn’t quite live up to the hype, as the Saints never trailed thanks to the all-around brilliance of Moss, who logged her first career triple-double and earned Final Four MVP honors.
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect season than the one Moss just enjoyed, but she still has one more year to add to her collegiate legacy.
To see the legacy for yourself, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year winner archive, where you can relive history and see which future stars won their first national recognition as high school athletes. To see the cream of the crop, visit the roster of Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year winners, showcasing Gatorade’s top male and female National Player of the Year honoree, selected annually from each POY class.