CHICAGO — In its 31st year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, has announced Jenna Staiti of West Forsyth High School as its 2015-16 Gatorade Georgia Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Staiti is the first Gatorade Georgia Girls Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from West Forsyth High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Staiti as Georgia’s best high school girls basketball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award announced in March, Staiti joins an elite alumni association of past state girls basketball award-winners, including Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Diana Taurasi (1998-99 & 1999-00, Don Antonio Lugo HS, Calif.), Maya Moore (2005-06 Collins Hill HS, Ga.), Rashanda McCants (2004-05, Asheville HS, N.C.), Shyra Ely (1999-00, Ben Davis HS, Ind.) and Lisa Leslie (1988-89, Morningside HS, Calif.).
The 6-foot-5 senior forward and center averaged 26.2 points and 13.7 rebounds per game this past season, leading the Wolverines (25-7) to the program’s first Class AAAAAA state semifinal appearance. A 2014-15 American Family Insurance First Team ALL-USA Georgia Girls Basketball Team selection by USA TODAY, Staiti added 4.2 blocks and 2.3 assists per contest. Also a returning Class AAAAAA First Team All-State honoree by the Georgia Sports Writers Association, she collected 30 double-doubles and two triple-doubles in 32 games, averaging 39 points per game in four postseason contests.
Also a swimming standout, Staiti has maintained a 3.19 GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating her time as a youth swimming coach and basketball instructor, she has volunteered on behalf of the Special Olympics and on a daily basis in her school’s attendance office.
“Not only is she a dominant force, but she carries herself respectfully and with high character,” said Harris Quraishy, head coach at rival Chattahoochee High. “She’s the best player I have ever coached against, and when facing double-, triple-, even quadruple-teams, she never gets down on her teammates if they cannot come through. She is one of the most supportive leaders I have ever seen. She gives confidence to her teammates and pushes them to be better. It is remarkable to see.”
Staiti has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of Maryland this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Staiti joins recent Gatorade Georgia Girls Basketball Players of the Year Asia Durr (2014-15 & 2013-14, St. Pius X Catholic High School), Lexie Brown (2012-13, North Gwinnett High School), Allisha Gray (2011-12, Washington County High School), Diamond DeShields (2010-11, Norcross High School), Kayla Lewis (2009-10, Southwest DeKalb High School), Anne Marie Armstrong (2008-09, Wesleyan School), Alicia Manning (2007-08, Etowah High School), and Maya Moore (2006–07, Collins Hill High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
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