Incoming Irish freshman hoops player Turner named HS Athlete of the Year

Notre Dame women’s basketball incoming freshman forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) has been chosen as the 2013-14 Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year, it was announced Tuesday night at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Turner and the award’s male recipient for this year, center Karl Towns, Jr. of St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J., will attend the 22nd annual ESPY Awards, which will be broadcast live at 9 p.m. (ET) Wednesday on ESPN from the NOKIA Theater L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.

Turner — who received her honor at Tuesday’s ceremony from World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medal-winning soccer legend Mia Hamm — is the third incoming Fighting Irish student-athlete (and second women’s basketball player) to earn the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award, following eventual four-time college All-America guard and 2014 WNBA All-Star starter Skylar Diggins (2009), and current women’s soccer midfielder/Soccer America Freshman All-America selection Morgan Andrews (2013).

With Turner’s selection, Notre Dame becomes only the second school (along with Connecticut) to welcome three recipients of the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award to its campus. What’s more, Notre Dame is just the second school with honorees in multiple sports, joining USC (one football and one track & field) in that elite group.

Turner is the seventh women’s basketball player to earn the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award, joining Diggins and other 2014 WNBA All-Stars Candace Parker, Tina Charles and Maya Moore, as well as current University of Connecticut forward Breanna Stewart.

Some other previous male recipients of the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award include: NBA superstars LeBron James (2003), Dwight Howard (2004) and Kevin Love (2007), as well as the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins (2013).

"This award is all about teamwork and contributions to a collective goal, and we couldn’t be happier to celebrate Brianna’s success,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “In the short time she has been on our campus, it’s already confirmed what we knew during the recruiting process — Brianna is a tremendously unselfish and giving person, who is going to be a wonderful addition to not only our program, but our entire University, during the next four years.”

Turner also is the ninth incoming Notre Dame student-athlete to earn Gatorade National High School Player of the Year honors in her sport. The other future Fighting Irish student-athlete who were Gatorade national selections during their prep tenures were: Ron Powlus (football – 1993), Denise Boylan (volleyball – 1997), Greg Dalby (boys soccer – 2003), Melissa Henderson (girls soccer – 2007), Diggins (girls basketball – 2009), Dillon Powers (boys soccer – 2009), Molly Seidel (girls cross country – 2012) and Andrews (girls soccer – 2012, 2013).

Turner recently completed a stellar career at Manvel High School by leading that school to the 2014 Texas Class 5A state championship and being named the tournament Most Valuable Player. As a senior, she averaged 20.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.9 blocks and 3.7 steals per game on the way to being named the 2014 Gatorade and USA Today National High School Player of the Year (and was a finalist for the Naismith and Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year awards). She went on to be named MVP of the McDonald's High School All-America Game after piling up 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks while making the game-winning basket in the West Team’s 80-78 win at the United Center in Chicago. In addition, she was a 2014 consensus prep All-American and was named Texas Miss Basketball by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC).

During her 152-game prep career, Turner averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 3.1 steals and 3.0 assists per game, averaging a double-double in each of her final three seasons (she played her first two prep seasons at Houston's Westbury Christian School, helping that squad to the 2011 Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 4A title before transferring to Manvel before the 2012-13 school year). She was a two-time high school All-America choice, as well as a three-time first-team all-state selection.

Turner also has won four USA Basketball gold medals during her career, helping her country to titles at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, 2012 FIBA U18 3x3 World Championship, 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship and 2013 FIBA U18 3x3 World Championship. She will go in search of a fifth international gold medal Aug. 6-10 when she suits up for the USA Basketball U18 National Team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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