Gatorade announces Player of the Year winners
Gatorade recently released their Boys Basketball Player of the Year recipients in all 50 states. This is their 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes recipients as the best high school boys basketball player in their respective states.
In New England, awards went to Nokomis' Cooper Flagg in the state of Maine, Brewster Academy's Matas Buzelis in the state of New Hampshire, Rhode Island's Denzel Correia in the state of Rhode Island, Montpelier's Jonah Cattaneo in the state of Vermont, Bristol Central's Donovan Clingan in the state of Connecticut, and Worcester Academy's TJ Power in the state of Massachusetts.
Maine - Cooper Flagg, Nokomis Regional HS
The 6-foot-8, 195-pound freshman forward led the Warriors to a 21-1 record and the Class A state championship this past season. Flagg averaged 20.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year, he recorded game-highs of 22 points and 16 rebounds in the state championship victory.
Flagg has raised funds to defray the cost of cancer treatments for a family friend and has volunteered locally on behalf of youth basketball programs. “Cooper Flagg is a once-in-a-generation talent here in Maine,” said Jason Pellerin, head coach at Lawrence High School. “He’s the best overall player—offensively and defensively—that I’ve ever coached against. His basketball IQ and maturity for a 15-year-old are truly something special.”
Flagg has maintained a 3.67 GPA in the classroom. He will begin his sophomore year of high school this fall.
New Hampshire - Matas Buzelis, Brewster Academy
The 6-foot-8, 190-pound junior guard led the Bobcats to a 31-8 record and the New England Prep School Athletic Council Class AAA Tournament championship this past season. Buzelis averaged 11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game and clicked for 18 points in Brewster’s 79-61 win over Northfield Mount Hermon School in the Class AAA title, earning MVP honors in the process. The son of a former member of the Lithuanian National Team, Buzelis will play for the World Team at the Nike Hoop Summit in April. A transfer from Hinsdale Central (Ill.) High, he is ranked as the nation’s No. 10 recruit in the Class of 2023 by ESPN.com.
Buzelis has volunteered as an ambassador for the Rimas Kaukenas Charitable Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides charitable assistance to Lithuanian children with cancer.
“Matas Buzelis has a dynamic skill set, but he also has the size of a power forward,” said Paul Biancardi of ESPN Basketball. “He has range as a shooter, a high basketball IQ and is a quality passer.”
Buzelis has maintained a B average in the classroom. He will begin his senior year of high school this fall.
Rhode Island - Denzel Correia, Rocky Hill Country Day School
The 6-foot-3, 165-pound senior guard averaged 21.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this past season, leading the Mariners (18-5) to the New England Prep School Athletic Council Class D tournament championship game. The 2022 Southeastern New England Conference Player of the Year, Correia is a two-time First Team All-SENE selection. He scored 1,082 points in his three years at Rocky Hill.
Correia developed and executed leadership activities for middle school students at Rocky Hill and he has volunteered locally at the Vincent Brown Community Center in Providence as a youth basketball coach and mentor. “Denzel makes other kids better and he is the heart and soul of that team,” said Mike Hart, head coach of St. Andrew’s School. “He can score, distribute and defend at a very high level.”
Correia has maintained a 3.24 GPA in the classroom. He remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
Vermont - Jonah Cattaneo, Montpelier HS
The 6-foot, 165-pound senior guard had led the Solons to a 22-1 record and a berth in the Division 2 state championship game at the time of his selection. Cattaneo averaged 23.5 points, 3.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals through 23 games. A Burlington Free Press All-State honoree, he was also an All-Metro selection as a junior and the Capital Division Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Cattaneo has volunteered locally on behalf of youth basketball programs. “Jonah Cattaneo can fill it up in a hurry,” said Jesse Willard, head coach at Spaulding High School. “He’s incredibly shifty, very quick and handles the ball really well. He can attack the rim or pull up from 25 feet, which makes him incredibly hard to defend.”
Cattaneo has maintained a 3.64 GPA in the classroom. He remains undecided upon a collegiate destination
Connecticut - Donovan Clingan, Bristol Central HS
The state’s returning Gatorade Player of the Year, the 7-foot-2, 260-pound senior had led the Rams to a 25-0 record, the No. 1 seed in the Division II state tournament and a berth in the state semifinals at the time of his selection. Clingan averaged 29.9 points, 18.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 6.12 blocks through 25 games. Ranked as the nation’s No. 51 recruit in the Class of 2022 by ESPN, Clingan amassed 52 points and 31 rebounds in a single game this season in addition to putting up a 45-point, 28-rebound performance in the Central Connecticut Conference championship game.
Clingan has volunteered locally at basketball clinics with the Bristol Boys & Girls Club and on behalf of the Cambridge Park Youth Sports Clinic. He has also donated his time as a Bristol Central “Rambassador,” helping incoming freshmen acclimate to high school. “Clingan is the most dominant player that I have seen in the last 20- plus years of my involvement as a Connecticut high school player, official and coach,” said Ryan Raponey, Lewis Mills High School head coach. “He completely changes the game when you play against Bristol Central. He runs the floor, he can step outside the lane offensively and completely dominates the game defensively.”
Clingan has maintained a 3.5 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of Connecticut this fall.
Massachusetts - TJ Power, Worcester Academy
The 6-foot-9, 210-pound junior forward led the Hilltoppers to a 23-7 record and the New England Prep School Athletic Council Class AA tournament championship this past season. Power averaged 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game, and he tallied 26 points and 11 boards in Worcester’s 85-83 victory over Bradford Christian Academy in the Class AA title game, earning tournament MVP honors. A transfer from St. John’s High in Shrewsbury, he is ranked as the nation’s No. 49 recruit in the Class of 2023 by ESPN.com.
Power has volunteered locally as part of multiple fundraising campaigns to benefit A Shot for Life, a non-profit that funds health and cancer research initiatives. He has also donated his time as a youth basketball coach. “I love TJ’s versatility and his willingness to take what the defense gives him,” said James Cormier, head coach of Cushing Academy. “He was a main focus for us (when we played them) and only had seven points in the game, but he impacted their win in so many ways because of his other abilities.”
Power has maintained an A average in the classroom. He will begin his senior year of high school this fall.