From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior center/power forward, Homestead (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Greatness Present: Caleb Swanigan is shrinking, no doubt about it.
It’s hard to believe the Homestead senior weighed 360 pounds when he moved to Fort Wayne nearly five years ago, sporting a physique more suitable for an offensive tackle than a basketball player. Fortunately for Swanigan, his desirability increased as his size diminished and he’s captured the interest of plenty of Division I colleges that would love to land him. His current 6-foot-9, 260-pound frame is a testament to the work ethic and sheer determination he has displayed to not only lose the weight, but also mold himself into Indiana’s top-ranked Class of 2015 recruit.
Last month, Swanigan was the lone Hoosier selected to play alongside the nation’s elite in the McDonald’s All-American Game. The honor came in the midst of a remarkable senior campaign. He has averaged 22.1 points and 14.6 rebounds entering the final week of the regular season, leading the Spartans (22-1) to No. 43 on USA TODAY’s national rankings.
For a player who will likely never shed the nickname “Biggie,” Swanigan is doing his best to prove that the moniker has more to do with his style of play than his size. He may not loom as large as he once did, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready for big things.
“Swanigan is an all-around basketball player with the kind of hands and footwork that you only see in big-time players,” Homestead head coach Chris Johnson told USA TODAY High School Sports. “He’s also a very unselfish player who understands the game and has a ‘team-first’ attitude.”
Greatness Past: Swanigan collected more than 25 points and 13 rebounds per game as a junior last season, leading Homestead to the 2014 Class 4A state semifinals. As a member of the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U17 National Team, he averaged eight points and 5.7 rebounds in 14 minutes per game off the bench during the team’s 7-0 run to the FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai this past summer.
Greatness Future: Swanigan remains undecided upon a collegiate destination, but is currently weighing scholarship offers from Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State, among others.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.