ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. – Tim Mudd recalls the first time he met Erin Boley, who as a third-grader was a head taller than everyone else on the basketball court and ruled it with a heavy hand.
“I said, ‘Well, I think she has a chance to be pretty good if she doesn’t end up in jail for killing somebody,’” said Mudd, the girls basketball coach at Elizabethtown High School. “You could see the drive and the passion and the aggressiveness. She did really temper that, but she was killing some little girls. They were crying, knocking them into walls.”
Nine years later Boley is much more comfortable on the court but still rules it. And on Wednesday she added to her accolades with the most prestigious award of her senior year.
Boley, a 6-foot-2 forward at E’town, was named the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She became the third Kentuckian to win the award in its 31-year history, joining Southern’s Lisa Harrison (1989) and Highlands’ Jaime Walz (1996).
“It’s a really amazing honor,” Boley said. “I’m honored to be part of the Gatorade family. … I really had no idea it was coming.”
A Notre Dame signee, Boley averaged 24.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.7 assists this season as the Panthers finished 30-5 and reached the quarterfinals of the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual champion Butler.
Boley joined the E’town varsity squad as a seventh-grader and finished her career as the program’s leader in points (3,325) and rebounds (1,431).
She is one of 24 girls who have been selected McDonald’s All-Americans and one of five members of the Naismith All-American first team. She was named Kentucky’s Miss Basketball during a ceremony last week in Lexington, Ky.
It was during that ceremony that bad phone service kept Boley from receiving a phone call from WNBA star Maya Moore. On Wednesday, the two connected as Moore – the 2007 Gatorade National Player of the Year – presented the award to Boley, who was working in the front office at E’town High.
“We never connected, so I was giving her a really hard time about it,” Moore said with a laugh. “It was priceless the way we set that up, and the surprise was even greater today because of the fact we missed each other.”
Mudd said he found out two weeks ago that Boley would win the award as the team traveled to Northern Kentucky University for the Sweet 16. Mudd admitted he cried when he got the news and then spent two weeks keeping it a secret.
“I’ve told her more lies the last two weeks than I’ve ever told in my life,” Mudd said.
Boley has a busy few weeks ahead of her, as she will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game on March 30 in Chicago and the Jordan Brand Classic on April 15 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
As part of the Gatorade honor, she will attend the ESPY Awards set for July 13 in Los Angeles.
Along with athletic excellence, the Gatorade award recognizes academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the court. Boley has a 4.0 grade-point average and is ranked No. 1 in her class at E’town. She also is the vice president of the senior class.
Moore said she was impressed with Boley as a player and a person.
“She’s truly phenomenal if you just look at what she’s done on paper,” Moore said. “But when you get to be around her and her family and her community for a little while, you realize she’s the real deal. She’s truly so deserving.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.