Canadian Andrew Wiggins, headed to Kansas as one of the nation’s most highly recruited basketball players, and soccer player Morgan Andrews, a Notre Dame recruit, were honored as national prep athletes of the year on Tuesday night.
Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., averaged a double-double in 25 minutes per game at Huntington St. Joseph’s Prep in West Virginia. He has been a fixture on Canada’s junior national team, twice leading bronze medal-winning teams at the international level.
He received the silver trophy from Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and Olympic medal-winning sprinter Bryshon Nellum.
“It’s just a blessing,” Wiggins said after the presentation in Hollywood. “I kind of don’t realize at first it’s such a big deal. I think it will hit me more afterward.”
The 18-year-old joined such storied past winners as LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. Wiggins said his goal has been to play in the NBA “ever since I was on earth.”
His father played professionally overseas, and Wiggins recalled watching him play when he was a small boy.
At Kansas, Wiggins wants to help deliver the Jayhawks a national championship.
“I think I can give the fans what we want,” he said.
Andrews became just the second soccer player to win the national award in its 11-year history. The forward from Milford (N.H.) High scored 31 goals and had 18 assists while leading her team to a 16-3-1 record and the Division II state title. Andrews was captain of the national Under-17 women’s team last year. She’s also an All-State placekicker for her school’s football team.
“Let me know your longest field goal and I’ll put in a call for you,” Rivers jokingly told Andrews.
She received her award from U.S. national soccer team star Abby Wambach and three-time Olympic champion beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, who retired after the London Olympics.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Andrews, who thanked her small hometown for its support. “This award means the world to me.”
Andrews said her goal is to make the U.S. roster for the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
“My goal is to always do the best I can possibly do and to promote the game,” she said, “and hopefully win a couple of national championships.”
Wiggins beat out nominees Trayvon Bromell, a sprinter from Gibbs High in St. Petersburg, Fla.; USC-bound quarterback Max Browne of Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash.; cross country runner Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J.; and center fielder Clint Frazier of Loganville (Ga.) High, who was recently drafted No. 1 by the Cleveland Indians.
Andrews won over nominees Sarah Baxter, a distance runner from Simi Valley (Calif.) High; volleyball setter Lauren Carlini of West Aurora High in Aurora, IIl.; softball pitcher Carley Hoover of D.W. Daniel High in Central, S.C.; basketball player Mercedes Russell of Springfield (Ore.) High; and heptathlete Kendell Williams of Kell High in Marietta, Ga.
The winners were chosen by a nationwide panel of sports experts who took into account individual accomplishments during the academic year, athletic, academic and character excellence, impact on their team’s success and their achievements during their prep career.
The awards are sponsored by Gatorade.