For the past 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with theGatorade Player of the Year award. On July 14, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2014-15 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual GatoradeHigh School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) senior Katie Lou Samuelson’s name sounds better suited for a Nashville record label than basketball stardom, but it was the sweet music of her game that got the utmost validation earlier. Samuelson was named the 2014-15 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“I’m in absolute awe and shock,” said Samuelson, 17, a UConn commit. “I am so humbled and grateful to receive this honor. So many people who have won this thing are athletes who I’ve grown up admiring. This is hard to believe.”
The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Samuelson is averaged 30.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. The leading scorer for the USA Basketball Women’s U17 National Team that won the world championship in 2014, she was named to USA TODAY’s American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year.
Check out highlights of Samuelson this season from our friends at Krossover.com:
“This is a really special moment for her,” said 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne, 25, who presented the award. “I was actually nervous beforehand. I didn’t want to screw up the surprise. Her skills speak for themselves, but she seems like a tremendous kid too. I hope she soaks this in because this is rare.”
Samuelson has maintained a weighted GPA of 4.26 in the classroom. A volunteer coach and counselor for the Kiernan/Mater Dei Camp of Champions, she has donated her time as an assistant and entertainer at the Boo Bash Dance and Dinner for special needs children. She has also participated in multiple community service initiatives, including the Santa Ana YMCA’s Tie Blanket Project, the Buddy Walk to benefit the National Down Syndrome Society and the Mater Dei Family Mass & Pancake Breakfast.
“She’s the best player in the country,” said Kevin Lynch, national talent evaluator for Blue Star Basketball. “She’s the best big shooter I’ve seen since [2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year] Elena Delle Donne. She reads defenses well, knows how to get open and she’s really developed an edge to her game too. She’ll battle you, and she’s a hell of a teammate.”