Clackamas junior Ben Gregg named Gatorade Oregon Player of the Year
All the time and energy that Clackamas High School's Ben Gregg has invested in developing his basketball game is starting to pay dividends.
On Thursday, Gregg was named the 2019-20 Gatorade Oregon Boys Basketball Player of the Year after leading the Cavaliers to a 21-5 record and a berth in the OSAA 6A quarterfinals.
The Gatorade state Player of the Year award was established in 1985 to recognize the nation's most outstanding student-athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement, and exemplary character on and off the court.
Gregg is the first Clackamas boys basketball player to be recognized as the Gatorade Player of the Year and the first Mt. Hood Conference player to receive the award since Barlow's Freddie Jones in 1997-98.
Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, Gregg joins an elite alumni association of past Oregon winners that includes Oregon City's Brad Tinsley (2007-08), West Linn's Payton Pritchard (2014-15 and 2015-16), and Lake Oswego's Calvin Hermanson (2011-12 and 2012-13) and Kevin Love (2004-05 and 2005-06).
Gregg, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound junior forward, averaged 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.9 steals for the Cavaliers, who were scheduled to face league-rival Central Catholic in the 6A quarterfinals when the tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're all really happy for Ben," Clackamas coach Cameron Mitchell said. "It's a really prestigious award and for him to be the first boys basketball player from Clackamas to receive it is pretty special. It's also a testament to our team, because realistically if we didn't have as much team success as we did, he probably wouldn't have been recognized.
"While it is an individual award, we see it as a team award because all the guys were part of making this season so special for him."
Gregg was twice named to the OSAA 2A All-State first team while attending Portland's Columbia Christian where he led the Knights to a 2017-18 state championship.
He transferred to Clackamas before the start of his junior year, and in his debut for the Cavaliers, he scored 20 of his game-high 30 points in the second quarter of a 67-42 rout over South Eugene.
"Yeah, he's pretty good," South Eugene coach Dave Hancock said of Gregg, who did most of his damage from beyond the 3-point line. "Last summer, we'd seen the big kids from this area and I first thought the kid from Battle Ground (Kaden Perry) was the best I'd seen, but this kid is much better because he can shoot the ball so much better.
"He not only stepped outside, but he stepped 10 feet behind the line outside. His first 3 was like probably 35 feet and then he hits another on the other side. It was like, 'Well, yeah, that's where his range is.' And he does it with ease."
Most of the Mt. Hood Conference coaches agreed.
"Ben Gregg was the top player in our conference this year and was easily the best player we played against all season," Gresham coach Erik Lyslo said in the news release that was put out by Gatorade. "His ability to do so many different things on the floor to help his team win was very impressive.
"We played him completely differently in the two games we faced him, and it didn't matter. He was a step ahead of us every time."
Off the court, Gregg has maintained a 3.3 GPA in the classroom, while also volunteering with Clackamas Youth Basketball clinics and donating time to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"I challenged Ben this year to really be a leader and help push the kids in practice to play harder," Mitchell said. "He became a more vocal leader as the season progressed, and the kids looked up to him because he's a good friend, he's a good teammate, and he's a really good player.
"I've said all year that Ben is the most versatile high school player I've seen in a while. His ability to get his teammates involved, and especially his passing ability, sets him apart from the vast majority of high school players."
As part of Gatorade's "Play it Forward" campaign, Gregg also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choice. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice.
Southridge senior guard MeKelle Meek was named the 2019-20 Gatorade Oregon Girls Basketball Player of the Year after she averaged 23.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.6 steals the Skyhawks of Beaverton to a 19-8 record.
The Gatorade Player of the Year awards are given annually to the top high school student-athletes in baseball, football, softball, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track & field. There are twelve National Player of the Year awards presented to the best student-athlete in each of the twelve sports.
The 2019-20 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year announcement has been temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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