HOLLYWOOD, Calif. —
A highly decorated basketball phenom with Canadian roots and a small-town girl from New Hampshire were selected the best of the best Tuesday night in the Gatorade Athlete of the Year ceremony at the W Hollywood Hotel.
As expected, Andrew Wiggins
, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound wing who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft was the male overall winner while Morgan Andrews, a two-time Gatorade National Soccer Player of the Year, was the female overall Athlete of the Year.
In a lavish event that featured 12 Gatorade Players of the Year in specific sports, Wiggins and Andrews took home the top prizes and were the popular choices among their peers. Both showed great humility and thanked their parents, community, teammates and Gatorade for the award.
Both pointed to their humble roots as keys to their early success.
Wiggins, considered in the mold of a lanky LeBron James, said what made him proudest to win the award was that he is the first Canadian to win the prestigious award, which includes past winners such as James, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love.
"Those are all great players who are all starring in the NBA," he said. "That's what I hope to do also."
Wiggins, who averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists per game leading Huntington Prep (W. Va.)
to a 30-3 record, said he was in awe of the five other finalists in the field. He's headed to Kansas in the fall
"There are a lot of great athletes here – the best in every sport," he said. "When they called my name, a lot of things ran through my mind. Knowing that I was the first Canadian to be named probably meant the most."
Andrews wanted to thank first and foremost the town of Milford (N.H.) where she was raised. She described it as a small farm town (population of 15,000). The Notre Dame-bound standout and U.S. Soccer Under-17 Women's National team member scored 31 goals and added 18 assists as she led her Milford (N.H.)
team to a state Division II title.
"It's a great place to live," she said. "I wouldn't have wanted to grow up in any other place. The big part is their support. Everyone around the town makes it such a great place to be from."
Both Wiggins and Andrews had lengthy exchanges with presenters from their respective sports: Indianapolis Pacers forward Paul George and U.S. soccer's leading scorer Abby Wambach.
Wambach was impressed with Andrews' humility.
"It's obvious she has a real good head on her shoulders," Wambach said. "She's a very impressive person beyond being obviously a great soccer player."
George said he's seen plenty of Wiggins' highlight reels to make an accurate assessment. He also likes how Wiggins carried himself among his peers.
"I love his game," George said. "He's not all about scoring but getting others involved. He's obviously very athletic. His game will translate very well to the college and NBA level."
Other presenters Tuesday were Olympic gold medal beach volleyball star Misty May-Treanor, track standout Bryshon Nellum and NFL quarterback Philip Rivers.
Other male nominees were Trayvon Bromell of Gibbs (St. Petersburg, Fla.) in track and field, Max Browne of Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) in football
, Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) in cross country
, Clint Frazier of Loganville (Ga.) in baseball
and Cristian Roldan of El Rancho (Pico Rivera, Calif.) in soccer
Other female nominees were Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley (Calif.) in cross country, Lauren Carlini of Aurora West (Ill.) in volleyball
, Carley Hoover of Daniel (Central, S.C.) in softball, Mercedes Russell of Springfield (Ore.) in basketball
and Kendell Williams of Kell (Marietta, Ga.) in track and field
. See more on the Gatorade Athlete of the Year banquet later this week.