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 Boys Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Greatness Present: Few states have produced as many high-caliber NBA talents as Washington over the past quarter-century, and even fewer schools have pumped out as many draft picks as Rainier Beach.
Former Gatorade State Boys Basketball Players of the Year Luke Ridnour (1999-2000), Aaron Brooks (2002-03), Spencer Hawes (2005-06) and Joe Harris (2009-10) are all still active NBA players, but perhaps no Washingtonian has captured the basketball worldquite like former Rainier Beach standout Jamal Crawford, the Gatorade program’s 1998-99 honoree. Since leading the Vikings to the Class 3A state title as a prep junior in 1998, Crawford emerged as the godfather of basketball in a state that’s given rise to professionals Jason Terry, Brandon Roy, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas, among others.
Already a two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner, Crawford still amazes on the summer circuit as well, flashing brilliant ball-handling and stunning scoring skills. So, when Dejounte “Baby Boy” Murray crossed up Crawford at the L.A. Clippers guard’s annual Seattle Pro-Am this past summer, it was somewhat of a big deal in Washington.
While Rainier Beach has graduated NBA players Nate Robinson and Terrence Williams since 1999, no Viking has taken home Gatorade Washington Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors since Crawford.
Could Murray seize the reins?
The 6-foot-5 wing averaged 25 points, 12.4 rebounds, eight assists and 3.2 steals per game as a senior in 2014-15, leading Rainier Beach (25-4) to the Class 3A state title game. For his efforts, Murray has already been rewarded with the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association’s Mr. Basketball award as well as State Player of the Year honors from both the Seattle Times and News Tribune.
Greatness Past: Like Crawford, Murray also led the Vikings to the Class 3A state title as a junior, averaging 18 points, 11.5 rebounds and eight assists in 2013-14. In addition to participating in the NBPA Top 100 Camp, (two-time Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year) LeBron James Skills Academy and Kevin Durant Skills Academy this past summer, Murray collected 11 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game for Northwest Xpress in Nike’s 2014 Elite Youth Basketball League. It’s been quite the year.
Greatness Future: Hometown basketball fans can continue to follow Murray this fall, as he’s signed with the University of Washington.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Boys 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 the list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.