McLaughlin, Tatum win national prep athlete honors
LOS ANGELES >> Jayson Tatum, a forward headed to Duke, and newly minted Olympic hurdler and sprinter Sydney McLaughlin were honored as the national prep athletes of the year Tuesday night.
Tatum starred at Chaminade College Prep in Creve Coeur, Missouri. He averaged 29.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a senior, leading the suburban St. Louis school to this year's Class 5 state championship. Tatum scored 40 points in the title game, a mark he topped in six games as a senior.
Tatum accepted his silver trophy from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, LA Rams player Todd Gurley, NBA rookie of the year Karl-Anthony Towns, who won two years ago, and retired soccer star Landon Donovan.
"Dad, I love you,"' Tatum said. "Mom, I'm the biggest momma's boy in the world and I'm not going to change anytime soon."
Tatum thanked his high school teammates and his fellow nominees, saying, "Any one of us could have won this award."
McLaughlin, a 16-year-old junior at Union Catholic High in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, accepted her trophy two days after earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the Rio Games in the 400-meter hurdles.
She qualified for the World Junior Championships later this month in Poland, but will skip it to compete in Rio.
McLaughlin was presented her honor by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, retired soccer star Abby Wambach, volleyball Olympian April Ross and retired softball star Jennie Finch.
"This award just tops it all off," McLaughlin said, noting her high school track season began on a rough note when she was diagnosed with mononucleosis and her mother later had a heart attack.
"Every Olympian has two or three major struggles before they make it. I didn't know if I was going to make it and somehow I did."
The other boys' finalists were: Jacob Eason, football, Lake Stevens, Washington; Andrew Hunter, cross country, Loudoun Valley, Oregon; Lucas Mendes, soccer, Arlington, Virginia; Kyle Muller, baseball, Dallas; and Michael Norman, track and field, Murrieta, California.
Eason is headed to Georgia, while Hunter is going to Oregon, Mendes to Virginia, Muller was drafted by the Atlanta Braves, and Norman is going to Southern California.
The other girls' nominees were: Khalia Lanier, volleyball, Phoenix, Arizona; Katie Rainsberger, cross country, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Erin Boley, basketball, Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Ella Stevens, soccer, Loganville, Georgia; and Madilyn Nickles, softball, Merced, California.
Lanier, daughter of former NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, is going to USC. Rainsberger will attend Oregon, Boley is going to Notre Dame, Stevens is going to Duke and Nickles is headed to UCLA.
Previous winners of the award sponsored by Gatorade include LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Allyson Felix and Kevin Love.
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