WILMINGTON, NC (release) – In his 36e year of tribute to the most elite high school athletes in the country, Gatorade announced today Saniya Rivers from Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC, is the 2020-2021 Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year.
Rivers won the prestigious award for his achievements on and off the pitch, join an impressive group of former Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year winners who have combinedd for nine WNBA MVP awards, 49 All-Star appearances, 14 WNBA Championships, 14 WNBA first-round draft picks and two Hall of Famers.
WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne practically surprised Rivers with the news.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, recognizes Rivers as the best high school basketball player in the country. A national advisory committee made up of experts and sports specific to the sport journalists helped to select Rivers nearly half a million female high school basketball players across the country.
The competition for the national award was fierce. Rivers topped the list of state winners in women’s basketball who collectively own an incredible list of accomplishments, including 11 Gatorade State Player of the Year, 35 with signed Letters of Intent at Division I colleges and universities , and 17 with GPAs of 4.0 or greater.
“Saniya Rivers has been one of the best athletes to come out of high school in years, ”said Kevin Lynch, Senior National Talent Assessor for BlueStar Basketball. “Her speed, quickness, size and jumping ability make her special from a game point of view. Its level of intensity is unmatched. Smart coaches recognize that a player’s position is where he can keep. Saniya is that rare player who can not only play every position, but keep every position. Her cap is, well, she doesn’t.
The 6-foot-1 senior goaltender led the Screaming Eagles to a 15-2 record and the Class 4A semifinals last season. Twice returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Rivers averaging 36.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.3 steals and 5.1 assists per game. The North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year, she has been honored three times by All State and a McDonald’s All-American. Rivers was also selected to the WBCA High School Coaching All-America squad and is ranked as the country’s No.2 prospect in the Class of 2021 by Prospects Nation.
Also high jumper for the athletics team, Rivers is a member of the Ashley Leadership Council and a Bible study group. She has volunteered locally as an instructor and mentor for young players at the MLK Center and the Brigade Boys and Girls Club. During the pandemic, she regularly ran errands for an elderly and immunocompromised neighbor.
Rivers maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.38. She signed a national letter of intent to play basketball with a scholarship to the University of South Carolina this fall.
“Saniya Rivers is a great high school basketball player, but she also has high standards for academic achievement and gives back to her community, ”said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “This award is not limited to sport and we are eager to see Saniyaongoing achievements on and off the field.
Each year, a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners in 12 different sports: soccer, women’s volleyball, boys and girls cross-country, boys basketball and girls, baseball, softball, boys and girls football and track and field for boys and girls.
Gatorade is dedicated to recognizing, supporting and maintaining athletes in sport because of the lifelong skills sport instills in them on and off the field. Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also become pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. . Previous winners include a list of distinguished athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne and many other sports icons.