In a ceremony before last night’s ESPY awards, Notre Dame women’s basketball incoming freshman guard Skylar Diggins won Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year honors. Diggins is the fourth women’s basketball player to win the award following Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Candace Parker. Garrett Gilbert, a high school football player from Texas, won in the male category.
At the ESPYs gymnast Nastia Liukin beat tennis star Serena Williams, Connecticut basketball player Maya Moore and Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker for the best female athlete award. However, Parker won best WNBA player and Moore won the best female college athlete award.
Gilbert and Diggins received their awards at a luncheon emceed by ESPN’s Stuart Scott and attended by Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions (2005-06 Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year), Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, AVP and Olympic Star Misty-May Treanor, and gold medal-winner Jessica Mendoza. Diggins was handed her trophy by Mendoza and May-Treanor.
“I’m humbled and honored to receive such a tremendous honor,” Diggins said of receiving the high school award. “When you consider how many athletes and how many sports are under consideration for this award, it’s just such a blessing. I have been fortunate to play with some incredible teammates and for some amazing coaches during my high school career. I’m also so grateful for the love and support from my family, my friends, and the whole South Bend community, and I share this with each and every one of them.”
“What makes this award so special is that it recognizes teamwork and contributions to collective success,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Both on and off the court, Skylar is an incredibly unselfish and giving person and we couldn’t be happier to hear that she is the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year. She will be an important addition to not only our program, but our entire University, during the next four years, and we are looking forward to having her on campus when classes start up next month.”
The Gatorade award is the latest in a series of national honors for Diggins, who took time out from training with the United States U19 World Championship Team in Colorado Springs, Colo., to attend the Gatorade and ESPY Award ceremonies in southern California. She and Team USA will depart for the FIBA U19 World Championships in Thailand on Friday and begin play in the 16-team tournament on July 23 vs. Spain (5:30 a.m. ET/4:30 p.m. local tipoff) in Bangkok. The event continues through Aug. 2, with the United States coming in as the two-time defending gold medalists.
Diggins recently completed a magnificent career at Washington High School in South Bend, capped off with Most Valuable Player honors at both the McDonald’s High School All-America Game and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) High School All-America Game-only former Tennessee and current Detroit Shock (WNBA) guard Alexis Hornbuckle had previously won both MVP awards (doing so in 2004). She also was the consensus 2009 national high school girls’ basketball player of the year, earning top billing from Gatorade, the Atlanta Tipoff Club (which presents the Naismith National High School Player of the Year award), ESPN Hoopgurlz and MaxPreps.
Diggins’ prep career may go down as one of the most storied in state history, after she led Washington High School to its fourth consecutive Indiana Class 4A state championship game appearance in 2009, making WHS one of only four schools ever to pull off that feat. In her four years on South Bend’s “West Side,” the Panthers posted a staggering 102-7 (.936) record, winning the 2007 4A state title (the first girls’ crown by a South Bend public school).
The Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award has been presented annually since 2003 to the nation’s top overall male and female athletes across each of the 12 sports in which Gatorade presents a national player of the year award. A national panel of 300 sports journalists, coaches, prep sports experts and analysts reviews each of the 12 Gatorade National Player of the Year r