High School Sports

Providence Day’s Erin Whalen, High Point Christian’s Bam Adebayo are N.C. Associated Press players of the year

Providence Day’s Erin Whalen (left) is the Associated Press N.C. player of the year. (Mike McCarn / MMP)
Providence Day’s Erin Whalen (left) is the Associated Press N.C. player of the year. (Mike McCarn / MMP) Mike McCarn

High Point Christian’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and Providence Day’s Erin Whalen are The Associated Press high school basketball players of the year for North Carolina.

Adebayo, a 6-foot-10 senior headed to Kentucky, earned seven votes as boys’ player of the year from 17 sportswriters across the state in results released Friday. Apex senior guard and George Mason recruit Ian Boyd finished second with four votes after being named the N.C. Basketball Coaches Association player of the year.

Whalen, a 6-1 senior headed to Vanderbilt, also earned seven votes as the girls’ winner. She edged Goldsboro Rosewood senior forward Lexi Mercer, a three-time AP all-state pick and Elon recruit who received five votes. Whalen was named N.C. Gatorade girls’ player of the year last month.

No other boys’ or girls’ player had more than two votes.

Adebayo and Whalen headlined the AP all-state teams Wednesday, joining East Lincoln two-sport star Sage Surratt as the only unanimous choices.

Whalen, a forward, averaged 17.6 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 90 percent from the foul line and 47 percent from 3-point range. She helped Providence Day win a seventh straight N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association title.

Her coach, Josh Springer, praised Whalen’s work ethic, noting she once had an assistant coach meet her at the gym at 5 a.m. to make up for a missed workout because of a recruiting visit.

Whalen, who played two seasons at Ardrey Kell High, said the goal was to build an all-around game.

“At the beginning of the year, what bothered me was everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, she’s a shooter,’ ” Whalen said. “I wanted to be more than that. I wanted to be known as a basketball player and not just a spot-up shooter.”

Adebayo is a three-time AP all-state pick. A McDonald’s All-American, he transferred from Pinetown Northside to High Point Christian for his final season, averaging 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Brandon Clifford, who coached Adebayo before resigning as High Point Christian’s coach, described Adebayo as a humble player who will “blossom” in college “because his motor kind of separates him.”

Adebayo said he liked Kentucky’s ability to develop big men but wasn’t focused on trying to become the latest Wildcats player to leave for the NBA after one season.

“It depends,” he said. “I just want to be the best I can be. So if I do the best, I average 16 (points) and 12 (rebounds) in college, then I’m going to the draft as a one-and-done.”

Adebayo and Whalen joined Farmville Central boys’ coach Larry Williford and Morganton Freedom girls’ women’s coach Amber Reddick as this season’s AP state winners. Writers at AP member newspapers nominated players and coaches for all-state or individual consideration, then they voted from the nominees.

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