A senior at Oregon’s Springfield High has been named the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Mercedes Russell led the Springfield Millers to an appearance in the Class 5A title game. ESPN lists the six-foot-six Russell as the top high school recruit in the country.
Her coach, Bill Wagner, says Russell grew several inches between 8th grade and high school, but learned quickly how to use her body.
“She did put a lot of time in, and she became a very fluid person for someone her size, and someone who grew so quickly. And you know I’ve been blessed to be able to coach her the last three years, and watching her transformation as a player from her sophomore year to where she is now, I mean, it’s unbelievable.”
Wagner says he’s excited to watch Mercedes Russell next year as a freshman at the perennial women’s basketball power, the University of Tennessee.
Before then, Russell gets to attend the EPSY’s national sports awards event, in July. She’ll be a finalist for Female High School Athlete of the Year.