Gray, Stewart take home national prep athlete honors
Johnathan Gray and Breanna Stewart won the national prep athletes of the year
Gray, a Texas commit, rushed for 10,889 yards at Aledo (Texas) High School
Stewart was a McDonald's All-American at Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) HS
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Running back Johnathan Gray, whose 205 career touchdowns were the most in high school history, and forward-center Breanna Stewart, a Connecticut recruit, were honored as the national prep athletes of the year on Tuesday night.
Gray beat out Jabari Parker of Chicago, considered to be the best high school basketball player since LeBron James, for the boys' award. Parker is a senior-to-be at Simeon Career Academy.
"I thought he was going to win it," Gray said of Parker. "That guy's a freak in basketball. They say he's the next LeBron. I was shocked. I didn't even know they called my name. I kind of sat there for a minute and then realized I won. My mom said, `Oh, that's my baby.' I told her not to cry just yet, wait until we get back to the hotel."
Gray scored 1,232 career points - second-best in national prep history - and rushed for 10,889 career yards, including 3,886 in a single season, during his four years at Aledo (Texas) High. Only four other prep backs have run for as many yards as Gray. The senior who carried a B grade point average is headed to Texas.
"It's definitely given me motivation to be successful at the next level," Gray said about the win. "It's going to be tough and it's not like high school, guys are going to be bigger, faster and stronger. Going in with this momentum, it's all I need to get through and hopefully become a top player at the next level and then hopefuly the next level."
He received the silver trophy from Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor, the No. 2 pick in this year's NFL draft; Los Angeles Galaxy player Landon Donovan; and retired NBA player Alonzo Mourning.
Gray remembered being an eighth-grader when Griffin's high school beat Aledo twice, and they joked about it.
"We're the only reason they didn't win state 17 times in a row because we beat them those two years," Griffin said. "I do have that on him and we did beat Texas the past two years, so I have that on him as well, but he's definitely going to do his best to beat Baylor and Baylor will be doing the same to him."
Parker said he expected Gray to win the award from among the six nominees.
"I watched his videos and as I was scouting him out I was saying there's no way that this dude will not get it," Parker said. "He deserves it the most. His team won the state championship. I'm a junior, so for me it would have been kind of selfish if I would have got it."
Stewart recorded double-doubles in 85 percent of her career games for Cicero-North Syracuse High in New York state. As a McDonald's All-American, she led her team to a 23-3 record and a second straight state public school AA title. Stewart averaged 26.4 points, 14.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 4.2 blocks and 3.1 steals as a senior.
"Just being able to make my high school, with the help of my team, more noticeable nationally and on a regional level," Stewart said. "Just going out on my senior season on a win, winning state, and then just ending everything on a win was a perfect ending."
She received her award from retired WNBA player Lisa Leslie; soccer player Brandi Chastain; and retired volleyball player Ogonna Nnamani.
"The fact that she chose UConn that tells me a lot about her because Geno (Auriemma) is no slouch," Leslie said. "He's a tough coach who brings out the best in each one of his players. His goal is the same goal that every school should have and that is to win a championship. You can shy away from that or you can decide to go join them. That says a lot about her heart and commitment. She's already had a few practices, so she sounds like it's going well. But of course Geno's not there yet. So I said, `Well, enjoy it but it's definitely going to get harder."'
The 10th annual awards are sponsored by Gatorade. Past winners include James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Allyson Felix, Candace Parker, and Maya Moore, all of whom went on to successful pro careers.
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