Two Mississippians are up for the top award in high school basketball.
Mississippi State commit Mario Kegler headlines the 2016 Naismith Trophy boy’s high school player of the year watch list, which is comprised of 77 of the nation’s top seniors and underclassmen. The 6-foot-8 small forward and Jackson native, who is playing his senior season at Oak Hill Academy (Va.), is averaging 19.8 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is listed as a five-star prospect by 247Sports.
The Naismith Awards were founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club in 1969 to recognize accomplished athletes, coaches, officials and contributors to high school and college basketball. The organization began honoring boys and girls high school basketball players in 1987.
Columbus sophomore Robert Woodard, Jr. is listed among a handful of underclassmen on this year’s watch list. The 6-foot-5 combo forward was also one of two sophomores named to The Clarion-Ledger’s Dandy Dozen this season.
Two of Kegler’s future college teammates are also in consideration for the prestigious award. Hamilton Heights Christian’s (Tenn.) Abdul Ado and Prestonwood Christian’s (Texas) Schnider Herard are only two of 10 centers on the list.
The Atlanta Tip Off Club will release a midseason team on Jan. 14, 2016, its national semifinalists on Feb. 10, its finalists on Feb. 24, All-American teams on March 8 and its winner on March 10.
The last player to win the Naismith Trophy boy’s high school player of the year from Mississippi was Clinton’s Jerod Ward in 1994. Former Callaway guard Malik Newman was a finalist for the award last year.