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 candidates.
Chase Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman
Senior centers/forwards, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Greatness Present: This much we know about Jeter and Zimmerman: They’ve never had to show they belong with the big boys. After all, they are the big boys, and everyone else has their hands full keeping up with them.
With their eyes set on a sixth state championship in seven years—this time without the services of 2013-14 Gatorade Nevada Boys Basketball Player of the Year Noah Robotham, who is currently averaging nearly 10 points per game as a freshman for the University of Arkon—each of Bishop Gorman’s towering duo has been busy showing why he is regarded among the top recruits in the nation.
The 7-foot, 235-pound Zimmerman is not only averaging better than 15 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Gaels (25-6) this season, he’s distributing the ball well, too, dishing out nearly four assists per contest. Jeter, at 6-foot-11 and 225 pounds, has also been churning out a double-double on a nightly basis (16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game), highlighted by a career-high 35-point outburst in an 82-46 win over Palo Verde in the Sunset regional championship last week.
Their success this season has been no fluke, of course. Both Zimmerman and Jeter were recognized as two of the nation’s elite last month, when they were selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. They will both also suit up for the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team this spring when they take part in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.
The duo also led Bishop Gorman to victory this past December at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., culminating with a 71-39 rout of Franklin (Ohio) in the title game. Zimmerman scored 12 points, and Jeter added 18 to outshine future Duke teammate Luke Kennard (17 points), the reigning Gatorade Ohio Boys Basketball POY.
Greatness Past: As a junior, Jeter collected 21 points and 20 rebounds to capture 2014 Division I state championship game MVP honors in a 71-58 win over Canyon Springs. At the Under Armour Elite 24 this past summer, his 17 points and 15 boards also earned co-MVP recognition in Team Liberty’s 127-116 victory against Team Freedom.
Both Zimmerman and Jeter also played for USA Basketball’s gold medal-winning U18 National Team at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, averaging a combined 15.4 points and 10.6 rebounds during the squad’s 5-0 run to the title.
Greatness Future: While Jeter has already signed with Duke, Zimmerman remains undecided upon a collegiate destination. The latter holds Division I scholarship offers from Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina and UCLA, 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.