MURFREESBORO — Crystal Dangerfield got the phone call and had no words.
She almost started crying.
The Blackman High senior had been told she was the recipient of the 2016 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year.
“I was speechless,” said Dangerfield, a 5-foot-6 point guard and Connecticut signee. “I was about to start crying tears of joy.
“It wasn’t expected.”
Dangerfield, a McDonald’s All-American, will receive the award at a ceremony on March 29 in Chicago a day before she plays in the McDonald’s All American Game at 5:30 p.m. March 30 at the United Center.
The award came a day after Dangerfield received her second straight TSSAA Class AAA Miss Basketball award.
She is the first from Tennessee to receive the Wootten Award, which is named after the former DeMatha (Md.) High School coach who won five national championships and had every DeMatha senior player receive a four-year college scholarship.
Other recipients of the award include Candace Parker (2004), Maya Moore (2007) and Elena Della Donne (2008).
“She just keeps checking boxes,” Blackman coach Jessica Jackson said. “I really don’t think there is much more a high school player can achieve.”
Dangerfield is the first from Tennessee to receive a national player of the year honor since former Shelbyville standout Tiffany Woosley received the USA TODAY national player of the year in 1991.
And the honor could be a prelude to another accolade. She is one of five finalists for the Naismith Trophy High School Girls Player of the Year, which is scheduled to be announced Thursday.
Dangerfield, who is a two-time Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year, averaged 23.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals.
Dangerfield, a two-time DNJ female athlete of the year, helped lead Blackman to Class AAA state titles in 2014 and 2015.
Former Blackman coach Chad Hibdon knew Dangerfield would be a special player in Rutherford County before she ever stepped on the court for the Lady Blaze.
“She has a passion for the game,” said Hibdon, who recently completed his first season at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. “You saw that at a young age. We knew she was going to be special, but how special?
“To do the things she’s done is just a testament to her understanding that she has to get better and grow and work. She’s never satisfied.”
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.