Sarah Ashlee Barker wins Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
HOOVER – Now that her historic career has come to an end with a second state championship in three years, postseason awards will start rolling in for Spain Park senior Sarah Ashlee Barker, the first of which was being named Alabama’s girls basketball Gatorade Player of the Year on Friday, March 6.
Less than a week removed from helping the Jaguars win their second championship in two years by taking down crosstown rival Hoover 47-44, Barker became the first Spain Park player to win the prestigious honor.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Barker as Alabama’s best high school girls basketball player.
In addition to being the state’s best player, she is now also a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award to be announced later in March.
During the run to the state championship, the 6-foot senior athlete led Spain Park to a 32-4 overall record, while averaging a double-double at 23.3 points and 10 rebounds per game.
It marks the second year in a row that Barker has averaged at least 20 points and nine rebounds after averaging 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last year. As a sophomore, she averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, while she was also key in a run to the state championship game her freshman season a year after tearing her ACL.
During her freshman season, the Jaguars went on to lose to Hoover in the state championship game, and while they came back to win the title during her sophomore year against McGill-Toolen, there was some unfinished business.
Spain Park then lost in the Elite Eight last season against Hewitt-Trussville, but determined to get back to the Final Four and the state championship, Barker helped will her team on a redemption path as a senior.
Not only did the Jags get back, but they matched up with rival Hoover again. This time around, they didn’t let history repeat itself by picking up a 47-44 win to help Barker’s career come full circle.
Barker joins Gatorade Alabama Girls Basketball Players of the Year Annie Hughes (2018-19, Pisgah High School), Zipporah Broughton (2017-18, Lee High School), Bianca Jackson (2016-17, Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School), Jasmine Walker (2015-16, Jeff Davis High School), Shaquera Wade (2014-15, Huntsville High School), and Alexis Jennings (2013-14, Sparkman High School) as athletes who have won the basketball award since its inception in 2007.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Barker also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing. She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
Barker, who has maintained a 3.31 GPA in the classroom, has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of Georgia this fall.
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