Future Kansas Jayhawk Gradey Dick just earned Gatorade National Player of the Year status.
The Wichita native, who is also a two-time Gatorade Kansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year, has been ballin’ for Sunrise Christian Academy this season and averaged 17.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The 25-1 Buffaloes are the top seed in this year’s GEICO High School Nationals Tournament set to start later this month.
Ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2022, the elite, 6-7 wing is also a 2022 McDonald’s All-American and will represent the United States at the Nike Hoop Summit next month.
On Tuesday, Dick was presented with the honor by Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum alongside friends, family, teammates, and coaches. Tatum was the 2015-16 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Moments after being presented the award, SLAM caught up with Dick to talk about his prolific high school career, meeting Tatum virtually, and what he’s hoping to achieve at Kansas.
SLAM: What’s up Gradey! How are you doing, what emotions are you feeling right now?
Gradey Dick: Man it’s crazy, it’s been a wild day so far but I’m blessed for everything.
SLAM: You’re the first Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year to come from the state of Kansas, what does this honor mean to you and your community?
GD: I hope that it kind of puts Kansas on the map, I know we’re not really thought of too much of a basketball state but, to show our history and all the guys that have gone through this, guys and girls, I think it’s huge. For me to kind of help do that is just…it’s crazy. I’m blessed and thankful.
SLAM: What was going through your mind when you first saw Tatum on the live feed?
GD: It was wild, I mean, we weren’t expecting it at all. My whole team was there and just a few coaches and some of the faculty, and then he popped up on this big projector and kind of talked to me individually and then once he announced that I was the National Gatorade Player of the Year, everyone came kind of rushing in with the trophy and everything. I was extremely surprised and just at a loss at words.
SLAM: How does it feel to be virtually handed this award by one of the brightest stars in the game today?
GD: It was huge to see and to talk with one of the guys I watch, probably one of the most in the League right now. And just taking some of his [film] and watching [it] and seeing different kind of moves I want to add into my bag, and being able to talk to him personally and hearing from him, just kind of his reactions of when he was handed the award is just a dream come true.
SLAM: What goes through your head as you start to reflect on your four years in high school?
GD: All these awards and just the prestigious different things that have been coming, its just really huge and all the goals I written down with my dad at the start of the year and being able to have the ability to achieve them by the end of the year is just a dream come true. But I feel like off the court is what’s most important. What I do in my community and kind of leaving that legacy for the future.
SLAM: Soon, you’ll be making that two and a half hour trek to Kansas. Aside from its close proximity to home, why did you chose Kansas over other programs such as Texas Tech and Baylor?
GD: Just the family aspect that’s all around Lawrence with the coaches, the players, and even some of the teachers on some of the visits I went on. Especially the fans at Allen Fieldhouse, it’s one of the craziest venues in college basketball and when I envision myself stepping on the floor for the first game, it’s just adrenaline pumping. It’s going to be one of the craziest feelings I’ll never forget.
SLAM: You’ll also be joining former teammate Zach Clemence in the locker room at Kansas, what are you most looking forward to when you reuniting with him and the rest of the team?
GD: Just being back together, and just hanging out with the new guys, not being so far away from them. Zach was actually like my roommate at Sunrise last year, so just to be back with him at the school is going to be the time of our lives.
SLAM: What do you think that you can bring to the table for the Jayhawks to continue to compete at such a high level?
GD: I think I bring my versatility just as a player and due to my size and everything like that. I have a lot of different ways to score the ball, so I feel like coming in with that versatility, and [I’ll] just hit the ground running right from the get-go as a freshman.
SLAM: You’ll also be joined by two other standouts in your class, MJ Rice and Ernest Udeh Jr. What do you think you guys will achieve as a group?
GD: I think sky’s the limit, for us. Even if we’re young, guys will see who’s returning and who’s not, and just us freshmen coming in, I know we’ve talked a lot about how we need to be prepared right from the start. Just coming in early and leading the team.
SLAM: How are you going to prepare for your freshman season?
GD: I think we know after talking with Coach Self that he expects us to kind of just throw us into the fire early. So like I was talking about earlier, just being prepared and being consistent on a daily basis [in] our workouts and everything like that so we can be confident right from the start.
SLAM: Going back to the Gatorade award, where would you rank this moment thus far in your basketball career and why?
GD: It’s definitely number one. I mean it’s one of the most prestigious award that a basketball player can achieve, and I think the thing that makes this award so special is not only what I did on the court this year, but what I did off the court in my community and at my school. That makes this thing so much more special.
SLAM: How do you want to be remembered at both Sunrise Christian Academy and Wichita Collegiate School?
GD: Just someone that’s always going to be themselves and is confident in whatever they do.
Photos courtesy of Gatorade.
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