St. John’s sophomore guard Azzi Fudd was named the Gatorade girls’ basketball national player of the year Tuesday, adding one of the most prestigious awards in high school sports to her growing list of accolades.
Fudd, the reigning All-Met Player of the Year, was given the award in a surprise ceremony at her school in Northwest Washington. Family, friends and coaches gathered in a hallway to wait for her, and Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne presented the trophy.
“I wouldn’t be here without my parents and without [my team],” Fudd said. “They pushed me every day in practice, so it’s really a team trophy, honestly.”
Fudd is the first player from the D.C. area and the first sophomore to win the national award, which has been given out since the 1985-86 season. Earlier this month, she was awarded the Gatorade state player of the year award for the District. Paul VI guard Ashley Owusu claimed the honor in Virginia, and Bishop McNamara forward Jakia Brown-Turner did the same in Maryland.
Fudd was one of three finalists for the national award.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really thinking about it. I thought, ‘I’m just a sophomore; it will go to one of the upperclassmen,' ” Fudd said. “I did not see this coming at all.”
The dynamic guard expanded her game this season after an exemplary freshman debut, averaging 26.1 points, 2.2 steals and 1.9 blocks for No. 1 St. John’s (35-1). The Cadets were nationally ranked for the entire season and repeated as Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and D.C. State Athletic Association champions.
“For our team, our program, our school — it’s just been a whirlwind since we were told a couple of days ago,” Coach Jonathan Scribner said. “Words can’t describe her and how deserving she is and how proud we are.”
Off the court, Fudd served as the planner and host of “Hooping for a Cure,” a basketball clinic that raised money for the Pat Summitt Foundation, and she has been involved with area youth leagues.
“She’s such a special player,” Delle Donne said. “I think if all goes well, this award could be here for a couple of years.”
St. John’s, New Hope to Geico Nationals
St. John’s and Prince George’s County powerhouse New Hope Academy will compete in the Geico Nationals, a national postseason tournament, next month in New York City. Miami Country Day (Fla.), the only team to beat St. John’s this season, and Centennial (Nev.) round out the four-team bracket.
“We’re just super excited,” Scribner said. “We have to stay focused, stay in top shape and top playing condition. To do that for another month after everything we’ve already been through is definitely a challenge.”
This is the first time St. John’s will take part in the event. In previous seasons, the WCAC did not allow its teams to participate in the tournament, but the schools held a revote this season, opening the door for the Cadets to accept an invitation.
The semifinals are April 5 and will be broadcast on ESPNU: New Hope will face Miami Country Day at 11 a.m., and St. John’s will meet Centennial at 1 p.m. The championship game is 10 a.m. April 6 on ESPN2.