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2015 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards

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.

Kyler also explained how Johnny Manziel played a role in the recruiting process. He and Johnny have become friends through the process, and it was apparent that Kyler wasn’t getting the hard sell from Johnny. Instead the two have bonded, and he seemed very grateful for the support.

Here’s the list of this year’s high school athletes honored by Gatorade:

Kyler Murray (Football Player of the Year)
Mikaela Foecke (Volleyball Player of the Year)
Grant Fisher (Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year)
Anna Rohrer (Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year)
Ben Simmons (Boys Basketball Player of the Year)
Katie Lou Samuelson (Girls Basketball Player of the Year)
Jack Harrison (Boys Soccer Player of the Year)
Mallory Pugh (Girls Soccer Player of the Year)
Luken Baker (Baseball Player of the Year)
Rachel Garcia (Softball Player of the Year)
Candace Hill (Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year)
Michael Norman (Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year)

We spoke with Ben Simmons as well, who was very confident in his ability to make LSU a force in the SEC this year, and Luken Baker, who explained how he chose TCU over going pro.

Hannah Storm hosted the event as well, and gave a poignant and heartfelt tribute to Stuart Scott, who had hosted the event for years. Scott’s two daughters, Taelor and Sydni, also spoke and honored their father. He certainly leaves behind an impressive legacy.

The festivities also featured pros like J.J. Watt, DeMarco Murray, Draymond Green, Karl-Anthony Towns, Landon Donovan, Abby Wambach and Julie Foudy. Watt in particular had plenty of fun with the event, explaining how he had just met Jennifer Aniston and acted like a star-struck kid. Watt was in a jubilant mood all night and was all smiles during the interviews. I joked with him that he may have to play quarterback this year to outdo what he accomplished in 2014, and he was more than happy to hint he would do anything his head coach asked of him.

Abby Wambach was also on cloud nine following her World Cup victory, as was Julie Foudy from the 1999 Woman’s soccer team who explained how she and all the other 99ers we behind this team.

So take note of the names of the high school kids who were honored this year. It’s very likely you’ll be seeing them in ESPN headline very soon.