HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - In its third decade of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, Gatorade® Thirst Quencher announced today in Hollywood, Calif., that UCLA incoming freshman Kevin Love of Lake Oswego High School (Lake Oswego, Ore.) is the 2007 Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year.
The award, which was presented today in connection with the upcoming ESPY Awards, distinguishes Love as the nation's best male high school athlete.
On April 10, 2007, A national advisory board comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country selected Love as the 2006-07 Boy's Basketball Player of the Year from more than 546,000 high school boys basketball players nationwide.
The senior center averaged 33.6 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and three blocks per game in leading the Lakers (26-2) to the Class 6A title game, where they fell to South Medford, who ended the season ranked No. 13 in the final USA TODAY Super 25 boys basketball rankings. The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Love was named a McDonald's All-American, the nation's Naismith player of the year and a three-time Oregonian state player of the year - the first-ever three-time boys basketball winner. For his career, in which he broke a 50-year-old state record for points scored (finishing with 2,628), he averaged 26.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.
Love put on a dominating performance in the final game of the Nike Extravaganza on Feb. 3, where he had 36 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in leading Lake Oswego to a 61-52 victory over Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), who ended the season ranked No. 10 in the final USA TODAY Super 25 rankings. As a junior, he led Lake Oswego to their first-ever Class 6A state title and had 24 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in their 59-57 championship game win over South Medford. He led Lake Oswego to a 92-21 record in his four-year varsity career.
Love has maintained a B-average in the classroom and shines as an active volunteer in his community, serving as a youth basketball coach as well as a visiting mentor for at-risk students at a local elementary school. As part of a school fundraiser, Love auctioned off his time by offering a private skills clinic to the highest bidder.
"His ability to dominate at both ends of the floor is pretty historic at the high school level," said Lake Oswego head coach Mark Shoff. "This state has produced players like Richard Washington and Danny Ainge, who went on to great college and pro careers, but we've never had anyone of Kevin's caliber at this point in his career. I think he's truly set himself apart."
The son of Stan Love, a former NBA player and Oregon Duck, Kevin Love will attend UCLA on a basketball scholarship this fall. He joins two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis (1996-97, Crossroads High School/Santa Monica, CA) as UCLA recruits named Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Recent Gatorade National Boys Basketball Players of the Year including two-time winner Greg Oden (2004-05 & 2005-06, Lawrence North HS/Indianapolis, IN), Dwight Howard (2003-04, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy/Atlanta, GA) and two-time winner LeBron James (2001-02 & 2002-03, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School/Akron, OH).
"Without question, Kevin is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school boys basketball player based on his statistics on the court and the impact his play had on Lake Oswego's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jeff Urban. "But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. He represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."
In 1985, The Gatorade Company established an award honoring America's elite high school student-athletes. In the subsequent two decades, the Gatorade Player of the Year award has become the most prestigious award in high school sports. In each state and the District of Columbia, Gatorade Player of the Year award-winners are selected annually in football (boys), volleyball (girls), boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, baseball (boys), softball (girls), and boys and girls track & field. As a result, the award's legacy is built on the achievement of the nearly 9,000 State and 176 National Players of the year who have been honored during that time.
Among the list of Gatorade Player of the year award alumni, one will find the names of Emmitt Smith, Lisa Leslie, Peyton Manning, Kerri Walsh, Derek Jeter, and Allyson Felix. They represent just a handful of great talents who were first recognized by the Gatorade Player of the Year program and have gone on to star at the highest levels of competition. As the award enters its 22nd season, The Gatorade Company looks forward to saluting many more high school athletes this year and in the years to come.