Some notes and links on game-day morning from Denver.
Checked with Sam Dower, who will be wearing Amare Stoudemire-type protective glasses tonight, the first time he's worn eye gear in a game. He saw it was a bit awkward at first, but he quickly adjusted. "They're like shades," he said, "except they don't move around."
Incoming Zag Kyle Dranginis was named Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year. More below.
Here's my game preview and capsules that I posted last night, John Blanchette's column on St. John's coach Steve Lavin and Dan Pelle's photo gallery. More in the Seattle Times, New York Post, more here and here in the Post, and here and here in the Daily News.
(Just a reminder: In-game updates tonight at twitter.com/SRjimm.)
In its 26th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Kyle Dranginis of Skyview High School as its 2010-11 Gatorade Idaho Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Dranginis is the second Gatorade Idaho Boys Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Skyview High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Dranginis as Idaho’s best high school boys basketball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award to be announced in March, Dranginis joins an elite alumni association of past state boys basketball award winners, including Dwight Howard (2003-04, SW Atlanta Christian Academy, Ga.), Chauncey Billups (1993-94 & 1994-95, George Washington HS, Colo.), Jason Kidd (1991-92, St. Joseph Notre Dame HS, Calif.), Paul Pierce (1994-95, Inglewood HS, Calif.) and Chris Bosh (2001-02, Lincoln HS, Texas).
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior point guard averaged 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals per game this past season, leading the Hawks (22-5) to the Class 4A state final. The state’s returning Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year, he scored a school-record 54 points on 20-for-26 shooting in game against Vallivue High in late Novemeber.
Dranginis has maintained a 3.54 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of his church youth group and as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit breast cancer research.
“Kyle Dranginis is one of the finest players I’ve seen in Idaho,” said Larry Crump, head coach of rival Bishop Kelly High. “He makes all the players around him better. Much of their team’s success was due to his ability to get his teammates involved.”
Dranginis has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at Gonzaga University this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Two-time winner Dranginis joins recent Gatorade Idaho Boys Basketball Players of the Year Josh Fuller (2008-09, Madison) and Mitch Bruneel (2007-08, Eagle), among the state’s list of former award winners.
To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.