When it comes to high school girls basketball, Evina Westbrook is the best of the best.
Westbrook, a 6-foot senior guard from South Salem High School, was named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Basketball Player of the Year on Wednesday by USA TODAY.
She is the first athlete from the Mid-Valley to receive the award.
"It's like another blessing added on to everything else I've acheived throughout my year," Westbrook said Wednesday afternoon at The Hoop, where she has worked on her craft since the third grade.
"It's just another thing that makes me so humble at the end of the day. I'm just so grateful to have such a high accolade like this is my life."
Westbrook concluded a sterling high school career at South Salem on March 11, leading the Saxons to a third-place finish in the OSAA Class 6A state tournament. She averaged 24.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 5.1 steals and 1.4 blocks this season and repeated as the Gatorade Oregon Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
In 2015 and 2016, Westbrook was instrumental in the Saxons’ back-to-back state championships. The 2015 squad included Katie McWilliams, who recently completed her sophomore season at Oregon State.
"I'm proud to have had a chance to coach her for four years," said former South Salem coach Nick McWilliams, who retired from coaching last month after spending the past 10 years as the Saxons' girls basketball coach. "Not very many coaches are gonna be able to say I coached the national player of the year. I can always brag about that now."
And there's a lot to brag about.
Westbrook is the most decorated high school athlete to come out of the Mid-Valley, and the USA TODAY award tops the list. She'll be honored April 14 at the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn, New York.
"Our family, we're beyond proud," said Evina's dad, James. "To go along with being an awesome basketball player she's even a better young lady."
Westbrook, who was recruited by virtually every major college program in the country, has signed to play at perennial power Tennessee, where she will join fellow Oregonians Jaime Nared (Westview HS) and Mercedes Russell (Springfield HS).
According to ESPNW, Tennessee has the nation's top recruiting class led by Westbrook, who is rated as the top guard in the nation. The Lady Vols have won eight national championships, the last one coming in 2009.
Having an opportunity to play in the Southeastern Conference was one of the main reasons Westbrook decided on Tennessee. Mississippi State of the SEC ended UConn's 111-game winning streak last week in the Final Four, and lost in the national championship game to league rival South Carolina.
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