CHICAGO — Yankton sophomore Matthew Mors has been named the 2018-19 Gatorade South Dakota Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. He is the second-ever Buck to win the honor, joining Tate Pesicka (2005-06).
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Mors as South Dakota’s best high school boys’ basketball player. Mors is now a finalist for National Player of the Year, to be announced later this month.
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound sophomore forward had led the Bucks to a 17-4 record and the Class AA quarterfinals at the time of his selection. (The Bucks advanced to the semifinals with a win on Thursday.) Mors averaged 22.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals through 21 games.
The vice president of his school’s service club, Mors has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach and has donated his time on behalf of food, clothing and school supply donation drives for the needy.
“Mors is a very poised, smart basketball player who has the athleticism to do just about anything he wants to on the court,” said Craig Nelson, head coach at Sioux Falls Washington. “He can shoot it out to 25 feet and then he can go down low and play back to the basket. He’s a nightmare to prepare for.”
Mors has maintained an A average in the classroom.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Mors joins Gatorade South Dakota Boys Basketball Players of the Year A.J. Plitzuweit (2017-18, Vermillion), Matt Cartwright (2016-17, O'Gorman), Ty Hoglund (2015-16, Dell Rapids) and Deng Geu (2014-15, Washington) among the state’s list of former award winners.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Mors also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He 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.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.