For the more than 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with the Gatorade Player of the Year award. On July 13, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2015-16 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
This installment features National Basketball Player of the Year Jayson Tatum from Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis.
Chaminade College Preparatory School (St. Louis, Mo.) senior Jayson Tatum was named the 2015-16 Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-9, 205-pound wing led the Red Devils (27-5) to the Class 5 state championship this past season, averaging 29.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and three assist per game. The state’s three-time Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year, he is also a 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA First Team selection.
A 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic selection, Tatum anchored Chaminade’s run to the No. 8 ranking in the USA TODAY Super 25 Expert Rankings. Ranked as the nation’s No. 2 senior recruit in the ESPN 100, Tatum was a member of the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team that won a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece last summer, averaging 13.9 points and 2.1 assists in seven games.
I think it’s pretty shocking for me to be holding award this right now. To be listed among the guys who’ve won it before, well, I’m honored just to be a finalist, let alone win it. This is right up there with winning a state championship. I was in the audience the day (Chaminade alumnus and Washington Wizards guard) Bradley Beal won this award. This was always a dream of mine.
Tatum, a Duke signee, is Missouri’s first three-time Gatorade State Player of the Year and has been a member of three gold medal teams with USA Basketball. He was a 2015 Nike Elite Basketball League First Team honoree and was also the MaxPreps National Sophomore and Junior of the Year in each of the past two seasons.
Regarded by player-profile analysts as the most versatile scorer in this year’s senior class, Tatum shot 52 percent from inside the arc and 86 percent from the free throw line. He ranks first in school history with 2,676 points and 1,028 rebounds as well as No. 2 in assists (393) and blocks (200).
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. Tatum is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
MORE: Q&A with Tatum
Tatum has maintained a B average in the classroom. A student ambassador at his school, he has volunteered locally by cooking and serving food for the needy on behalf of the Father Dempsey Charities. Tatum has also donated his time as a guest speaker for at-risk youth in Ferguson and as a coach and instructor at numerous youth basketball camps and clinics.
In addition, Tatum has played a fundamental role in the development of a program for supporting single mothers attending school as well as an initiative to educate student-athletes regarding social responsibility, good digital citizenship and financial literacy. Both programs will launch once Tatum’s amateur athlete status expires.