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Jesuit’s McCullers wins Gatorade National Player of the Year award

Posted May 31, 2012 by Bill Ward

Updated May 31, 2012 at 04:03 PM

Just one day after being named Gatorade’s Player of the Year for Florida, Jesuit senior pitcher Lance McCullers was presented with Gatorade’s National Player of the Year award during a presentation held this afternoon at the school.

The awards program annually recognizes one winner from each state, plus the District of Columbia, from football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field. From there, Gatorade recognizes one National Player of the Year in each sport.

Earlier this year, Berkeley Prep’s Jordan Burgess was named Gatorade’s National Player of the Year for volleyball. Now in its 27th year, the Gatorade program has honored more than 11,000 State Players of the Year and 234 National Players of the Year, including several of the top names in professional sports. Among them are Peyton Manning, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh, Derek Jeter, and Emmitt Smith

Along with athletic ability, the award focuses on academic achievement and “exemplary character on and off the field.” The winners are chosen by a panel of ESPN high school reporters and analysts.

McCullers, a right-handed pitcher expected to be taken early in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, led Jesuit to the Class 5A state semifinals this season with a 13-0 record and 140 strikeouts. He also posted an ERA of 0.18 and just 30 walks over 77.1 innings. Offensively, McCullers batted .280 with two home runs and 21 RBI, stole 10 bases in 10 attempts, scored 27 runs, had an on-base and slugging percentage of .467.

In the past year, he’s reaped numerous other awards. Most recently he won the Tampa Tribune’s 2012 Player of the Year honor. Last season, he was the Jackie Robinson Award winner as the country’s top rising senior, earned all-American honors from ESPNHS, Baseball America, Perfect Game, MaxPreps and Louisville Slugger. As a sophomore, McCullers made seven appearances for USA Baseball’s Under-18 National Team and also took part in the Under Armour All-America Game and 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic.

In the classroom, McCullers has maintained a B average and, off the field, has been a volunteer with the Special Olympics, Metropolitan Ministries, the Head Start Program and Bakas Equestrian Center for intellectually challenged children. In addition, he has donated time to be part of a local literacy-outreach program and has been a speaker for middle school children and as part of multiple food drives in association with Jesuit High.

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