‘I am humbled’: North Carolina high school basketball star wins national award

SANFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – The biggest high school girls basketball star in North Carolina is being recognized on the national stage.

Grace Christian School senior Sarah Strong was named the girls winner of the 2024 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year Trophy. Duke men’s basketball commit Cooper Flag took home the award on the boys side.

On Friday, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the recipients of this year’s awards, which are given annually to the most outstanding high school basketball players in the country.

“Sarah and Cooper’s dedication and skill on the court have rightfully earned them the prestigious title of Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year,” Atlanta Tipoff Club president Eric Oberman said in a released statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to acknowledge their exceptional achievements and extend our best wishes as they embark on the next chapter of their basketball journey at the collegiate level. Their remarkable success is a testament to their talents and relentless work ethic.”

PREVIOUS: Grace Christian’s Sarah Strong in no hurry to name a college

During her senior year, she spearheaded the Crusaders to a perfect 30-0 record and the program’s third straight state title. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 21.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.8 blocks per game this season.

Strong helped her team culminate a 91-4 record over the past three seasons, including a 41-game winning streak. She led Grace Christian to 80 double-figure wins over that time, as well as the NCISAA 1A, 2A and 3A state championships in consecutive years.

She’s the first player from North Carolina to ever win the Naismith High School Player of the Year award.

“I am humbled to be recognized as the 2024 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Winner,” Strong said in a released statement. “I would like to thank God for blessing me and I thank the selection committee for recognizing me and the other amazing finalists who are elevating the sport we love. I am grateful for my family & their continued support. I would also like to recognize every coach and teammate who has contributed to my basketball journey, from those in my earliest days at Club Baloncesto Alcobendas in Spain to my current teammates at The Strong Center & Grace Christian School in Sanford, NC. Muchísimas gracias!”

She’s tabbed as the No. 1 ranked prospect in the 2024 class, according to ESPN.

Strong, the daughter of former North Carolina State player Danny Strong, is currently uncommitted but is considering offers from Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina and LSU, among others.

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