Bradley Central's Rhyne Howard named Gatorade girls' player of the year for Tennessee

Houston's Kennedy Trice (3) guards Bradley Central's Rhyne Howard (23) as she looks to pass the ball during the Bradley Central vs. Houston girls' Class AAA state basketball tournament semifinal game Friday, March 9, 2018 in Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Bradley Central fell to Houston 49-52.
photo Bradley's Rhyne Howard (23) drives on Daniel Boone's Macie Culbertson (4) in first half action at Murfreesboro.

It's difficult to become the first to accomplish something in Bradley Central girls' basketball's storied history, but that's just what senior Rhyne Howard did Monday.

She was named the Gatorade girls' player of the year for the state of Tennessee.

Howard, who won Class AAA's Miss Basketball award two weeks ago, was notified by email early Monday morning that she had won the Gatorade award.

"I checked my email and saw it and got excited," Howard said. "It's a great honor. I feel really proud to be recognized as a top player in the state and possibly the country. It kind of takes some of the hurt off of the way our season ended."

Howard averaged 22.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 5.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in leading the Bearettes to an undefeated regular season and the semifinals of the state tournament, finishing 33-1 overall. She is rated as the nation's No. 31 overall prospect by ESPN.

The 6-foot-2 Kentucky signee was the first Bearette to win Miss Basketball since Brittany Jackson and is the first Bradley Central player ever to win the Gatorade award.

"I've told everyone all year that Rhyne is the best player in our state," said East Hamilton coach Hunter Gremore. "There are a lot of good players, but Rhyne's a special one."

The Gatorade award also takes into consideration an athlete's academics and character. Howard mentors inner-city kids and volunteers with Cleveland-area Special Olympics and has a 3.62 grade point average. She is now a finalist for the Gatorade national player of the year to be announced later this month.