Homestead senior girls basketball player Karissa McLaughlin can add one more honor to her already stellar senior season: Gatorade Indiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year, announced Monday.
"I actually just woke up and saw I had a Tweet that said I was Gatorade Player of the Year and checked my email and confirmed it," McLaughlin said in a phone interview. "I was super excited and told my parents. I knew it was going to be announced today. Finding out I received, it was a huge honor. I was so thankful."
McLaughlin averaged 25.9 points, 5.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game and knocked down 111 of 241 3-pointers (46.1 percent) during her senior season. She concluded her high school career with 2,586 points, putting her at No. 10 on the all-time career scoring leader board.
The Spartans finished with a 28-2 record that concluded with Homestead’s first Class 4A girls basketball state championship on Feb. 25.
"This award is something that gives back to the community and the Homestead team," she said. "It shows how hard this team worked and how much we put into it. I wouldn’t have been able to win without this team. The state title was huge to do it in Indiana and so it was great to bring that back to the Homestead."
The award recognizes athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the court, according to a release.
McLaughlin will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward Program.
McLaughlin is the second Northeast Indiana athlete to garner a Gatorade Player of the Year at the state level after DeKalb’s Tyler Schwartz won the girls cross country award.
Since the end of the season, McLaughlin has continued her work in the gym to improve her game and has balanced recruiting once again after Florida fired coach Amanda Butler last week.
"I have 6 a.m. workouts about two or three times a week, and I had an afternoon workouts, as well," she said. "I want to keep in the gym, continue to get better and preparing for the next level and continue to better my game.
"I’ve kept it kind of limited. I have been looking at Purdue and Michigan as well as Florida. I’m considering them, and I’m going to keep looking really hard at those three schools. They’re all three amazing schools so we’ll see within the next month or so."
McLaughlin also indicated she is waiting to see whom the Gators hire to replace Butler.