Taylor O’Brien was torn.
The Plymouth Whitemarsh senior was slated to receive the Miss PA Basketball award Saturday at a banquet in Harrisburg. Only problem was she was already scheduled to be at Shippensburg competing in the track and field state championships.
O’Brien got her award at Shippensburg, along with two state medals but didn’t get a chance at a photo with the Mr. PA Basketball recipient.
Luckily, Cameron Reddish doesn’t live very far away and the two seniors met on Monday.
“I lost so much sleep over the decision, they were both super important to me and I didn’t want to miss either one of them,” O’Brien said. “It was two huge opportunities for me and I’m grateful I was still able to receive the award and also go to the state track meet.
“It was so cool that someone else from around this area was able to win the award, it was pretty amazing we both won.”
The Mr and Miss PA Basketball award, presented by SportsRecruiters.com, honors the most outstanding male and female basketball players in the state. Any player in the state is eligible with fan, media and coaches voting cutting the initial list down to 25, then 10 and the final five for each gender.
Reddish, a Norristown resident who attended and played at Westtown, was named the PA sportswriters Player of the Year in Class 3A last month. The 6-foot-7 point guard, a Duke signee,, is the top-ranked recruit in the state and was at one point ranked the top overall recruit in the country this season.
Even as a headliner in the Blue Devils’ stacked recruiting class, Reddish is still appreciative of any recognition he receives.
“It’s honestly nothing but a blessing,” Reddish said. “I worked so hard for it and it means a lot to me and my family. It’s an honor I got this award.”
Reddish battled several nagging injuries this season but still turned out plenty of highlights. He scored 53 points in a December showcase game and his elite athleticism led to several viral dunks throughout the season.
After the high school season ended, Reddish spent the spring showcasing his skills nationally. The senior, who is part of the USA Basketball player pool, took part in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game (Chicago), Jordan Brand Classic (Brooklyn) and Nike Hoops Summitt (Portland).
“It’s all about staying humble and true to who you are, plus my closest friends, they keep you level-headed,” Reddish said. “I never would have thought it would have come to all that and it’s still weird looking back on it, those were three tremendous opportunities.”
O’Brien, who has committed to continue her basketball career at Bucknell, was named the PA sportswriters Player of the Year in Class 6A. The 5-foot-9 guard, who was also a first team all-state pick as a junior, had a spectacular final campaign for the Colonials.
During the season, O’Brien ran roughshod over the PW record books first setting the girls’ program’s all-time scoring record, scoring her 1,500th career point then becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer, male or female.
She wrapped all that up by becoming the first player in Plymouth Whitemarsh history to score 2,000 points and finished a four-year career with 2,060 points.
“I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve received but I couldn’t have done it without everyone along the way,” O’Brien said. “It’s all about mental focus and mental toughness to be able to step out and perform on the court.”
Archbishop Wood senior Katie May, the Class 5A Player of the Year and Northeastern singee, was a finalist for the Miss PA Basketball award while Abington senior Eric Dixon, the Class 6A Player of the Year who recently gave a verbal commitment to Villanova, was a finalist for the Mr PA Basketball Award.
Reddish is already considered a top lottery prospect for next year’s NBA Draft and said he’s hoping to have a strong enough season at Duke to put his name in consideration for a top-three pick.
“I would say just never give up,” Reddish said. “There were times where I wanted to quit and pushed through it, I have great friends and they pushed me through it. So just continue to work hard and never give up.”
O’Brien is just sticking to basketball in college although she did pretty well at Shippensburg, capturing third in the 300 meter hurdles and fourth in the high jump. She knows there’s still another level to hit on the hardwood and O’Brien is going after it the same way she did through four years at PW.
“Just play hard, push yourself and work as hard as you can, anything can happen,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t think I’d be here today but I knew I had to keep working hard and give it everything that I’ve got and good things would happen.”