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 Girls Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Junior point guard, Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Greatness Present: Like most girls’ basketball players her age from Tennessee, Dangerfield was raised a Lady Vols fan, watching two-time Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Candace Parker lead the dynastic program to back-to-back national titles in 2007-08.
Except, Dangerfield swapped Tennessee orange for the cool blue of UConn’s Huskies when she got another taste of Gatorade flavor.
“I liked Tennessee until I saw Maya Moore and Tina Charles play,” Dangerfield told the Hartford Courant upon committing in October to play collegiately for the Huskies. “That’s when I started to like UConn.”
Charles and Moore, of course, captured successive Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Dangerfield, who, remarkably enough, became the first Tennessean ever to commit to play for Auriemma (a note not lost on UT fans), could follow those former Huskies’ footsteps before ever setting foot on campus in Storrs, Conn.
The returning Gatorade Tennessee Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Dangerfield has averaged 15.9 points, 7.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds and three steals per game this season, leading Blackman to a 15-2 start. The Blaze’s two losses came against nationally ranked Jacksonville (Fla.) Potter’s House Christian and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.
Unlike a certain other Dangerfield, the 5-foot-6 junior point guard is getting plenty of respect, ranking No. 3 in the Class of 2016 as rated by ESPN.
Greatness Past: Dangerfield averaged 14.5 points, 3.6 assists, 2.9 steals and 2.7 rebounds per game as a junior last season, leading Blackman to the school’s first-ever state championship in any sport. She collected 19 points, five boards and four assists in the 66-44, Class AAA title-clinching victory against Memphis Ridgeway. The Blaze finished 2013-14 ranked atop USA TODAY’s national rankings.
In addition to leading Tennessee’s Pride and Flight travel programs to a total of five national championships from 2007-12, she also earned a spot on the 2013 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team.
Greatness Future: Foregoing offers from Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Maryland, Dangerfield verbally committed to UConn as a junior.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY races are now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of each list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.