Gamecock commit Saniya Rivers named Gatorade National Player of the Year
Wilmington, N.C. – Gatorade today announced South Carolina commit Saniya Rivers of Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, N.C. is the 2020-21 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Rivers won the prestigious award for her accomplishments on and off the court, joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year winners who have combined for nine WNBA MVP awards, 49 All-Star appearances, 14 WNBA championships, 14 WNBA first round draft picks and two Hall of Famers.
WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne virtually surprised Rivers with the news, while her family, coaches and teammates showed up with the trophy at school. Check out a video of the announcement here.
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 Rivers as the nation’s best high school girls basketball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Rivers from nearly half a million high school girls basketball players nationwide.
Competition for the national award was fierce. Rivers topped the list of state winners in girls basketball who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including 11 repeat Gatorade State Players of the Year, 35 with signed Letters of Intent at Division I colleges and universities, and 17 with GPAs of 4.0 or higher.
“Saniya Rivers is one of the best athletes to come out of high school in years,” says Kevin Lynch, senior national talent evaluator for BlueStar Basketball. “Her speed, quickness, size and leaping ability makes her special from a matchup perspective. Her level of intensity is second to none. Smart coaches recognize that a player’s position is who they can guard. Saniya is that rare player who can not only play every position, but guard every position. Her ceiling is, well, she has none.”
The 6-foot-1 senior guard led the Screaming Eagles to a 15-2 record and the Class 4A semifinals this past season. The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Rivers averaged 36.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.3 steals and 5.1 assists per game. The North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association Player of the year, she is a three-time All-State honoree and a McDonald’s All-American. Rivers was also selected to the WBCA High School Coaches’ All-America team and is ranked as the nation’s No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2021 by Prospects Nation.
Also a high-jumper for the track team, Rivers is a member of the Ashley Leadership Council and a bible study group. She has volunteered locally as an instructor and mentor for young players at the MLK Center and the Brigade Boys and Girls Club. During the pandemic, she regularly performed shopping duties for an elderly, immunocompromised neighbor.
Rivers has maintained a 3.38 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of South Carolina this fall.
“Saniya Rivers is an outstanding high school basketball player, but she also has high standards for academic achievement and gives back to her community,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “This award is about more than just sport and we look forward to seeing Saniya’s continued achievements on and off the court.”
Each year a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track and field.
Gatorade is dedicated to recognizing, supporting and keeping athletes in the game because of the lifelong skills sports instill on and off the field. Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne and many other sports icons.