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March 5, 2012

Muhammad, Stewart named Players of the Year

MORE HOOPS: Rivals150: Class of 2012 | Class of 2013

The high school basketball season is still going strong in many states - but that didn't prevent the Atlanta Tipoff Club from announcing its 2012 Naismith boys and girls Players of the Year awards.

The winners, simply put, were that good.

Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the Rivals150 all season, was the pick for the boys.

Do-everything player Breanna Stewart of Cicero (N.Y.) North was the obvious choice on the girls side.

In addition, Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill coach Steve Smith was named boys Coach of the Year while Curtis Elmark of Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's Catholic earned the girls honor.

"Selecting this year's high school players and coaches of the year was anything but easy, but when you look at the body of work compiled by Shabazz and Breanna, as well as Steve and Curtis, it's clear that they are all deserving of this honor," said Eric Oberman, Executive Director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Muhammad led Bishop Gorman to the Nevada Class 4A boys state championship with a 96-51 win over Reno (Nev.) Hug. He had 36 points, on 15-of-17 shooting, to cap a 28-4 season.

"Shabazz ended an incredible career on the highest note possible, helping the Bishop Gorman Gaels win their third state championship in four years," Bishop Gorman assistant athletic director Grant Rice said. "He is a true competitor in every way and his work ethic is second to none. He deserves every accolade he receives."

Muhammad, whose college eligibility recently came into question , is said to be choosing among Kentucky, UNLV, Duke, Kansas and UCLA.

Stewart is headed to Connecticut, one of three Naismith Girl's High School Player of the Year finalists committed to playing for the Huskies next season. She has led Cicero-North to an 18-3 record while becoming the NYSPHSAA Section III all-time leading scorer with 2,188 career points.

"This honor for Breanna, being the 2012 Naismith Player of the year, brings a lot of joy, sense of pride and accomplishment to her, the community and her teammates," Tom Tatham, the director of athletics for North Syracuse schools, said. "It has been a true pleasure in watching her grow and become the outstanding player and person she is. She is deserving of the award for all of her hard work, time and effort in becoming a great player and person on and off the court."

Smith, who also won the award in 2009, led the Oak Hill Warriors to a 44-0 season, the first time the school has eclipsed 40 wins in a single season. It is the favorite to win the RivalsHigh 100 national title, which would be the school's ninth.

Ekmark led St. Mary's to its second straight Arizona Division I state championship while finishing 33-0.

The Naismith High School boys Player of the Year award was first presented in 1987 to Dennis Scott of Oakton (Va.) Flint Hill. Other notable winners include current NBA stars Jason Kidd (1992) Kobe Bryant (1996), LeBron James (2003).

Last year's winner was Austin Rivers of Orlando (Fla.) Winter Park. He currently plays at Duke.

Last year's girls winner was Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. She currently plays at UConn.

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