30 Years of Honoring The Future: Wiggins living up to POY hype

30 Years of Honoring The Future: Wiggins living up to POY hype

News

30 Years of Honoring The Future: Wiggins living up to POY hype

By

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 Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

The trade that featured two Gatorade National Boys Basketball Players of the Year appears to already have a winner. And it’s not the team that features yet another Gatorade National POY—two-time honoree LeBron James.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have to be quite pleased with the production they are receiving from 2013-14 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year Andrew Wiggins, who came to the Twin Cities this summer in a three-team trade that sent 2006-07 Gatorade National POY Kevin Love to join forces with James (the 2001-02 and 2002-03 National POY) in Cleveland.

The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Wiggins is lapping the field in the race for Rookie of the Year. The 6-foot-8, 199-pound small forward is averaging 15.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and he has really found his stride in the last month. Coincidentally, Wiggins’ game started to round into a shape against James, Love and the Cavaliers.

Cleveland easily dispatched Minnesota, 125-104, on Dec. 23, but Wiggins connected on a trio of 3-pointers on his way to 27 points. In 15 games since, Wiggins is averaging 20.1 points. He’s been even better in January, scorching the nets for 21 points per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals while connecting on 47.8 percent of his shots from the floor.

Wiggins, who will participate in the Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend next month in New York, had the best statistical game of his young career this past Saturday, scoring a career-high 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting (4-of-5 from 3-point land) with nine boards, four assists and three blocks in a 113-105 win over Denver.

Wiggins wasn’t always an easy call for Rookie of the Year. Jabari Parker, the No. 2 pick in the draft and the 2012-13 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year, got off to a strong start for the surprising Milwaukee Bucks. The 6-foot-8, 240-pounder was averaging 12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and knocking down nearly half of his shots before a knee injury against Phoenix on Dec. 15 prematurely ended his season.

Like Wiggins, Parker had an early breakout game against James, Love and the Cavs. Parker scored 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting to go with eight rebounds and three assists in a 111-108 loss to Cleveland on Dec. 2.

In the first of likely many meetings between Wiggins and Parker, the latter’s team got the better of the former’s club as Milwaukee beat Minnesota, 103-86, on Nov. 26. Parker tallied 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the win. Wiggins went for 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks (one notably on Parker) in the loss.

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.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports