New stars shine at 2016 Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards

Jayson Tatum and Sydney McLaughlin took home the hardware last night as they were named Gatorade Male and Female Athletes of the Year for 2016. We were on hand at the L.A. Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for the festivities hosted by ESPN’s Sage Steele. This prestigious award for high school athletes has been an annual tradition since 1985 (when it was know as the Player of the Year Awards), and this was our fifth year covering this fun event. The event was attended by sports stars including Cam Newton, Karl-Anthony Towns, Todd Gurley, April Ross, Abby Wambach, Landon Donovan and Matthew Stafford.

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2015 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards

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This is the fourth year we’ve had the opportunity to cover the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards, and we’re definitely seeing a pattern. These awards have been introducing future sports stars since the awards were created in 1985, and that trend is certainly continuing. Just consider the last three athletes to win Boys Basketball Player of the Year - Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, three stars who have dominated the top of the NBA draft in recent years. Then consider recent Girls Basketball Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, who has won three-straight national titles at UConn.

Now she’ll be joined by this year’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year and winner of Girls Athlete of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson at UConn as she goes for four straight and Katie Lou tries to start her own streak. The rich get richer!

This year’s winner of the Boys Athlete of the Year, Kyler Murray, will be taking his considerable talents to Texas A&M. Kyler talked about the recruiting process, and explained that his decision to go play for the Aggies wasn’t influenced that much by the fact that his father played there. Kyler talked about how the style of play at A&M suited his ability, and how he bonded with the coaching staff. When talking to a young man like Kyler calmly explaining the approach he took to his future, you realize how mature many of these high school athletes can be these days as they get so much more attention and learn to handle it early in their careers.



Andrew Wiggins is Gatorade’s High School Player of the Year

Andrew Wiggins Gatorade POY 2

Andrew Wiggins is on his way to becoming a household name, and winning the Gatorade High School Player of the Year Award is another big milestone in that journey. I was on hand in Los Angeles last night for the awards ceremony at the W Hotel in Hollywood as Wiggins picked up his trophy and Morgan Andrews picked up the award for best female athlete.

Gatorade has been handing out these awards since 1985, and past winners sound like a who’s who of sports superstars with names like Emmitt Smith and Peyton Manning. Last year we were on hand when Breanna Stewart picked up the award for female athlete, and she promptly went on to win a National Championship with UConn in woman’s basketball. This years winner for girls basketball, Morgan Andrews, is going to Tennessee and it will be fun to watch her potentially challenge Stewart and the Huskies for basketball supremacy. Here are all of the impressive winners:

Lauren Carlini Volleyball
Sarah Baxter Cross Country
Mercedes Russell Basketball
Morgan Andrews Soccer
Carley Hoover Softball
Kendell Williams Track & Field

Max Browne Football
Edward Cheserek Cross Country
Andrew Wiggins Basketball
Cristian Roldan Soccer
Clint Frazier Baseball
Trayvon Bromell Track & Field

We spoke with many of the athletes and came away impressed with all of them. As a Cleveland Indians fan I had already heard about Clint Frazier, this year’s #1 draft pick for the Indians. Frazier has tremendous power and is considered by many scouts to be a 5-tool player. He’s already started his pro career and he’s loving it. Max Browne is heading to USC to play quarterback, and with Matt Barkley heading to the NFL we may just see Browne starting this season as a freshman. Trayvon Bromwell is the first American high school athlete to run a sub 10.0 in the 100-meter dash with a 9.99 second effort this past season. We’ll probably be seeing him in the Olympics soon.

Andrew Wiggins Gatorade POY

Gatorade surprises all of the winners at their high school with their award, so we heard plenty of stories about that in our interviews. Max Browne explained how they showed up on his last day of school and how his friend had played along while the coach made it sound like they had gotten in some sort of trouble. Mercedes Russell said her coach only told her they would be taking some pictures that day so at elast she was prepared for that part of it.

A number of pro athletes were on hand to give out the awards and honor these young kids, including Phillip Rivers, Paul George, Abby Wambach and Misty May-Treanor. We were able to speak with each of them and we’ll be posting videos soon.

When we spoke with Andrew Wiggins, he explained how he’s already training with the Kansas Jayhawks and looking forward to the upcoming season. He seems to be handling all of the hype well, saying that he’s just concerned with the upcoming season now and he’s not getting distracted by the potential of being the #1 pick in the NBA draft next year. I asked him about a budding rivalry between him and Jabari Parker, last year’s winner in the basketball category who decided to attend Duke, Wiggins pointed out that Kansas and Duke will face off this season in Chicago, so he’s definitely paying attention to the matchup. It will be fun to watch these two incredible talents play against each other, possibly sparking a new Bird-Magic type of rivalry for years to come.