Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | 5:04 p.m.
The last two Las Vegas-area high school basketball players to win back-to-back Gatorade Player of the Year honors in the state have each played professionally.
This is the goal of the Centennial product Taylor Bigby, which last week was once again honored by Gatorade, this time for the 2020-21 season which never happened due to the pandemic.
She was also selected last week for the Jordan Brand Classic, becoming the first Las Vegas player since Aaryn Ellenberg in 2010 to become an All-American.
And, for good measure, the 6-foot-1 goalie also graduated from the Centennial last week.
In winning the Gatorade honor twice, Bigby joins players like boys CJ Watson and Shabazz Muhammad to be twice recipients. Both reached the NBA.
Bigby won three state championships at Centennial, ending his three-year career with 780 points, 314 rebounds and 161 steals, according to Gatorade. The Centennial Players have won the award each of the past five seasons – the others were Eboni Walker, Justice Ethridge and Sam Thomas.
Yet Bigby is the sole beneficiary on two occasions, and rightly so.
“Taylor is different from most of the players I see or coach because of his versatility,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said in a press release. “She’s capable of playing all positions 1-5 at Centennial. Not only is she able to play them, but she is able to keep all positions. It’s rare.
As the high school season was put on hold by the pandemic, Bigby hasn’t stopped training. His father is the director of the Tarkanian Basketball Academy, which gives him unlimited access to training. Day after day, she worked on her shooting, dribbling and more.
“My biggest goal was to perfect my jump shooting on all three levels,” she said. “If you can score on all three levels, it gets you out of control.”
A five-star rookie, Bigby will play next season for Oregon, a perennial top 20 program. She has high aspirations.
“I want to win a national championship in the first year,” she said. “I want to start. If I don’t start, I want to play major minutes. I’m the only person who can stop me. My ultimate goal is to play professionally.
The Jordan Brand match will not be contested due to the pandemic. But it’s still a huge honor when you consider that these are the top 24 players nationally.
“These are definitely some of my goals,” Bigby said. “At the same time, I wasn’t expecting anything because of the pandemic.”