Erin Boley, the Elizabethtown star who last week became Kentucky’s 41st Miss Basketball, was named the national girls’ basketball Gatorade player of the Year on Wednesday. She was the first Kentuckian to receive that honor in the last 20 years.
Boley averaged 24.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 steals in her final season with the Panthers. Butler defeated Elizabethtown, 61-59, in the quarterfinals of the girls’ Sweet 16 on March 11.
The Notre Dame signee, ranked No. 5 in her class by ESPN, shot 60 percent from the field and became a marksman from behind the arc, nailing 47.3 percent of her attempts from distance as a senior. She’ll play in the McDonald’s All-American game next week and the Jordan Brand Classic game on April 15. In addition to those honors, she was named to the Naismith Trophy’s All-American first team earlier this month.
She ended as the all-time leading scorer (3,325 points) and rebounder (1,431 boards) at E-town. Those marks put her as the seventh-leading scorer in state history and just outside the top 25 all-time.
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Maya Moore, a four-time WNBA All-Star with the Minnesota Lynx and league MVP in 2014, presented the award to Boley at Elizabethtown High School.
“I had no idea it was coming,” Boley said. “It’s definitely an amazing honor for sure. ... It’s an honor to represent my state and community in E-town as well.”
Boley works in the school office as an aid in the morning. She answered a phone call Wednesday and Moore was on the other end. Moore, who was the Gatorade national player of the year in 2007 before going on to win two NCAA championships at UConn, had tried to call Boley last week to congratulate her on being named to the Jordan Brand roster, but she missed her because Boley was at the Mr. and Miss Basketball banquet. Moore jokingly scolded the E-town senior before walking into the school office on Wednesday.
“The surprise was classic,” Moore said. “It was really fun to see the shock on her face and to see her smile for the next 10 minutes straight.”
Notre Dame will play in Rupp Arena this Friday as part of the women’s NCAA Tournament and most anticipate the Irish will be playing for a Final Four berth on Sunday. Boley will likely miss out on seeing her future squad play because she has to fly to Chicago Saturday morning for the McDonald’s All-American game festivities, which begin later that day. The girls’ all-star game tips at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We have thought about going Friday night to Lexington but we have so much going on that I don’t think we’ll be able to make it,” Boley said with a laugh.
Boley became the third girls’ basketball player and fourth Kentuckian to be named a national Gatorade player of the year. Lisa Harrison (Southern) and Jaime Walz (Highlands) won the national girls’ basketall award in 1989 and 1996, respectively.
Tim Couch of Leslie County won the national football player of the year award, also in 1996. No boys’ basketball player from Kentucky has ever won the national award.