Future Jayhawk Gradey Dick has been on fire with his Ochai Agbaji impersonation of late.
No, the Sunrise Christian Academy standout has not copied Agbaji's jump shot or tried to match his numbers. Instead, he has been racking up award after award for his stellar senior season in high school, just like the KU senior has been for the Jayhawks at the college level.
One of the bigger honors to come his way was revealed on Tuesday, when current Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum surprised Dick with a virtual greeting to inform him that he had been named the 2021-22 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Already the Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas, Dick joins a group of former prep stars who have combined for five NBA MVP awards, 76 All-Star Game appearances, 14 NBA championships, 27 NBA first round draft picks and three Hall of Fame inductions.
Dick was presented with the trophy at his school, with family, coaches and teammates around him to celebrate his success. He said he was thrilled to receive the honor and that he appreciated the opportunity to be remembered for his play on the court as well as his efforts off of it.
“It’s one of the biggest awards you can receive as a basketball player," he said Tuesday. "So for me to be that player, I’m thankful.”
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 Dick as the nation's best high school boys basketball player.
The Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others to evaluate the nominees, selected Dick from nearly half a million other student-athletes who play boys basketball nationwide.
“Gradey is a long and lean knock-down shot-maker with a high basketball IQ and nice positional size,” said Paul Biancardi of ESPN Basketball. “More than a one-dimensional player, he will also finish drives, take charges and rebound, all of which helped his team win the NIBC regular-season title. What makes him special is that he combines talent, effort and good character. Kansas has an incoming player who will make an impact both on and off the court.”
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior guard has led Sunrise to a 25-1 record and a berth in the Geico Nationals Tournament. Dick is averaging 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game through 26 games, while shooting 46.7% from behind the arc and hitting on 51.3% of his field goal attempts.
A McDonald’s All-American Game selection, Dick was one of five finalists for the Naismith award. He will represent the United States at the Nike Hoop Summit in April, and he was a member of the gold-medal winning Under-18 U.S. team at the 3-on-3 World Cup last summer.
A member of the Young Life Christian ministry, Dick has volunteered locally at a food pantry and shelter for the homeless in addition to serving as a middle school math tutor twice a week for the past two years. He has also donated his time to the Special Olympics, Sunrise Christian Academy Basketball Camps, the Buddy Hield Basketball Camp and as a guest speaker/guest coach for younger students at school during his lunch period. Dick also has maintained a weighted 3.66 grade-point average in the classroom.
“When you look at the stats Gradey Dick has achieved on the court, it’s undeniable that he’s worthy of joining a long line of past Gatorade Players of the Year,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “There is a ton of talent among the nearly half a million student-athletes across the nation who compete in boys basketball, but no one lights it up quite like Dick while also excelling in the classroom and making a difference in his community.”