This event celebrates the achievements of 12 of America's finest young athletes. The award is not just based on athletic performance but also academic excellence and community service. The Conference of Champions, of course, was well represented with six of the scholar athletes either signed or committed to Pac-10 schools.
Future USC Trojan Matt Barkley and future Tennessee Volunteer Chanelle Price were awarded the National Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award. Matt Barkley became the first junior to win the award and Chanelle Price will be running track in the SEC this fall. Also nominated was future UCLA guard Jrue Holiday.
In attendance were former winners Matt Leinart, Greg Oden, Candace Parker and Mia Hamm. I asked Jrue how it felt to be amongst great high school and professional athletes. "This is different. I'm just humble right now. Everyone has been really cool," he replied.
UCLA has been to the last three Final Fours and the team is looking for a fourth trip. I'm sure there is pressure on this highly regarded freshman class to continue the same success.
"We are ready. The freshman class is coming in and expecting a trip to the Final Four," he answered.
Holiday is now officially a Bruin. He has been attending summer school classes and has been playing pick up games on campus all summer.
"This summer, I have been trying to improve my shooting. I need to be a more consistent outside shooter. I have also been focusing on my ball handling skills too," Holiday said. "I have been working with Darren (Collison) and he has been teaching me a lot."
With a player like Brandon Jennings skipping college and going to Europe, I asked Jrue what he thought of the NBA rule of players not being able to go from high school straight to the NBA.
"I have always wanted to attend college. My mom has always wanted us to go to college," he said. "I had a chance to go see my brother at Washington. I was there for a week and I enjoyed the college experience. Maybe I'm just different but I wanted to go to school," he continued.
Is Jrue the exception or the rule? "Well, I think I'm different," he replied laughingly. "I think most kids want to make that jump."
Good thing for Bruin fans that he is different.