For 31 years, Gatorade has been rewarding athletes all over the country in various sports. On the men’s basketball side, if you’re fortunate enough to win this award, it can be a good barometer of things to come.
Just a year ago, Ben Simmons won the reward and he’s more than likely going to be the first named called during the NBA Draft in a few months. Before Simmons, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins won the award and guess what, they were both top picks.
This year, the winner of the National Gatorade Player of the Year award is none other than Jayson Tatum. The St. Louis native is ranked second in ESPN’s top 100, only behind soon to be teammate Harry Giles.
“I think it’s pretty shocking for me to be holding award this right now,” said Tatum, 18, a Duke signee. “To be listed among the guys who’ve won it before, well, I’m honored just to be a finalist, let alone win it. This is right up there with winning a state championship. I was in the audience the day (Chaminade alumnus and Washington Wizards guard) Bradley Beal won this award. This was always a dream of mine.”
Tatum’s mentor, 4-time NBA all-star Penny Hardaway presented the award.
I was able to catch up with Tatum and Hardaway following the festivities.
Tatum started off talking about how it’s going to be playing alongside Harry Giles.