Notre Dame commit Erin Boley is used to the fanfare and accolades that come along with being one of the top high school basketball players in the country. Her list of honors is impressive: three-time Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year, Kentucky Miss Basketball, McDonald’s and Naismith All-America selection.
Now, she can add 2016 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year to her résumé.
When Boley saw Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore emerge Wednesday at her high school in Elizabethtown, Ky., to inform her that she had won Gatorade’s most coveted award, her composure was temporarily shaken.
“It was really crazy,” Boley told SI.com in a phone interview. “I had no idea that she was coming. I was speechless at first. It’s an amazing honor.”
Moore, the 2007 Gatorade National Player of the Year and one of Boley’s basketball heroes, set up the award presentation with a phone call to the high school star on Wednesday while she was working as an office aid during one of her class periods. Moore had tried to reach the 18-year-old by phone on Tuesday to invite her to the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., next month, but Boley was at an award ceremony at the time and unavailable to take the WNBA star’s call.
“When she answered today, I reminded her that she missed my call,” said Moore, who was outside the office door when she called Boley on Wednesday. “And then when I walked in, she was in shock. She still had the phone up to her ear and didn’t really know what was going on. It was awesome.”
Boley, a 6'2" forward, capped her illustrious high school career by averaging 24.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.7 assists per game this season at Elizabethtown High School, which finished 30–5 after falling in the state tournament earlier this month. She began playing varsity as a seventh-grader and finished ranked seventh all-time in state history with 3,325 points, while also adding 1,431 career rebounds.
Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP and former UConn great, sees versatility in Boley’s game that she thinks will set the nation’s No. 5 recruit apart in college.
“It seems like she’s got a knack for every part of the game,” the three-time WNBA champion said. “The fact that she almost averaged three steals and three assists is super impressive. I know that her mind is already thinking about being that total player. And I know she is going to develop with training and in a competitive environment at the next level at Notre Dame.”
Lauded for her shooting ability, Boley signed with the Irish in November, along with Indiana native Jackie Young. She and Young, a guard, will bring more than 6,000 career high school points with them to South Bend this summer, joining 2014 Gatorade National Player of the Year Brianna Turner and the rest of a Notre Dame squad that will look to the young scorers to fill the offensive voids left by seniors Madison Cable and Michaela Mabrey.
“Shooting is one of my strengths and I think that I will contribute in that way,” said Boley, who chose Notre Dame over UConn, Louisville, Tennessee and Stanford, among others. “I just want to go in and do whatever they need me to do. I hope that my versatility will help in some way and they’ll be able to use me at different positions.”
Before joining the Irish though, Boley, the owner of a 4.0 GPA and top-ranking in her graduating class, has one more accolade to win: valedictorian.
“It is a goal of mine,” said Boley, who is also the vice president of her senior class and founder of an after–school art program for at–risk students. “Ever since I was young, my parents instilled in me the importance of doing well in the classroom, so I’ve always just had the drive to excel.”
If Boley’s drive and humility are indications of her future success at Notre Dame, then Moore believes the Irish are getting a special student-athlete for the next four years.
“She scored a lot of points in high school, so it will be really fun to watch her add a level of competitiveness in the college game,” Moore said. “And just from hanging out with her, I can see she’s got a humble spirit and that’s going to help propel her to be an awesome teammate and competitor at the next level. The ACC is going to have a big problem on their hands with her.”