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.
Greatness Present: Sabrina Ionescu has won two gold medals for USA Basketball, captured a national club championship and accomplished nearly everything in her high school career.
She had never beaten national power Mater Dei, however. Until Saturday at the MLK Showcase, that is.
The 6-foot point guard scored 26 points and contributed eight rebounds, eight steals and four assists as the Matadors crushed Mater Dei, 65-47, in what Miramonte coach Kelly Sopak deemed “the biggest win in school history outside of the playoffs.”
The victory came 364 days after Mater Dei—which has produced four of the past five Gatorade California Girls Basketball Players of the Year, including National Players of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson (2015) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2011)—had beaten Ionescu and Miramonte by a somewhat similar 67-45 margin.
The win improved this season’s Matadors, ranked No. 6 in the USA TODAY’s Super 25, to 15-0. Ionescu, named to the McDonald’s All-American Game roster this week, is averaging 29.5 points, 8.5 assists, 7 steals and 7 rebounds per game. Miramonte is 102-8 during her varsity career and has won sectional titles each of the past two seasons, both times advancing as far as the semifinals of the state’s Open Division tournament.
Greatness Past: Ranked the No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2016 by ESPN, Ionescu averaged 23 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 5 steals per game as a junior.
She has won gold medals while playing for Team USA at the FIBA Americas U16 championships in 2013 and the U17 FIBA World Championship in 2014. This past summer she led her club team, Cal Stars, to the Nike Nationals title.
Greatness Future: Ionescu is the only female McDonald’s All-American who has not yet committed to a college. California and Oregon are considered her top suitors.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for weekly updates on the top contenders making a case.