Butler senior guard Jaelynn Penn has closed out her high school career taking home one of the state’s most coveted honors.
Penn was named the 2017 Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year early Monday morning, adding to her trophy haul of 2016 Kentucky Sweet 16 MVP and 2016 state title, among others. Penn led Butler back to the Sweet 16 this season, averaging 14.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 34 games.
“I was extremely excited for her,” Butler coach Larry Just said. “She’s put in a lot of time, she’s a great player and she’s sacrificed a lot to be part of a team and program, so I’m happy that she’s been able to be recognized for the player that she is.”
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Penn, who will join Indiana University’s women’s basketball team this fall, also has a 3.76 GPA. The 5-foot-10 guard remains in the running for the annual Miss Basketball award, which will be given Tuesday.
Penn is one of five college signees who played for Butler this season, including Tasia Jeffries (Saint Louis), Bre Torrens (Bellarmine), Teri Goodlett (Eastern Kentucky) and Janna Lewis (Tennessee State). Penn and Torrens started as freshmen and helped lead Butler to the 2014 state title before the quintet repeated as state champions last year.
“Jaelynn meant a lot because she could do so many things for us and I said that from the beginning,” Just said. “She may not be the leading scorer on our team or the leading scorer in the state or pull down rebounds, but every night you could count on her that she would score, would rebound, would defend and she was a presence on the floor that everyone needed to know what to do with her. She was so valuable to us.”
Penn joins former Butler star Tia Gibbs, who won the award in 2008, as Gatorade Player of the Year honorees.