Morgan Wootten Names 2015 McDonald's All American Players of the Year
March 10, 2015 The McDonald’s All American Games and Hall of Fame Coach and Selection Committee Chair, Morgan Wootten, announced Ben Simmons and Katie Lou Samuelson as winners of the 2015 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year Award today for their accomplishments on and off the court.
The Morgan Wootten Award is given annually to the best male and female McDonald’s All American players who exemplify outstanding character, exhibit leadership and embody the values of being a student-athlete in the classroom and the community. McDonald’s established the award in Wootten’s honor to pay tribute to his unprecedented achievements as a teacher and coach.
Simmons, a 6-foot-9, 225 pound power forward at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida is the second player from a Florida high school to win the male Morgan Wootten Award following Austin Rivers’ win in 2011. He is the 19th overall winner of the award, joining the likes of previous recipients including Jahlil Okafor (2014), Jabari Parker (2013), Harrison Barnes (2010), Greg Monroe (2009), Kevin Love (2007), Dwight Howard (2004), LeBron James (2003), Jay Williams (1999) and the award's first recipient, Shane Battier (1997). Simmons beat out finalists Isaiah Briscoe (Roselle Catholic High School – Roselle, New Jersey), Jaylen Brown (Wheeler High School – Marietta, Georgia), Jalen Brunson (Adlai E. Stevenson High School – Lincolnshire, Illinois), Malik Newman (Callaway High School – Jackson, Mississippi) and Stephen Zimmerman Jr. (Bishop Gorman High School – Las Vegas, Nevada).
Samuelson is a 6-foot-3 standout wing from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. She is the first female player from California to earn the award and the 14th overall female winner, joining the ranks of Taya Reimer (2013), Breanna Stewart (2012), Elena Delle Donne (2008), Maya Moore (2007), Tina Charles (2006), Candace Parker (2004) and Ivory Latta (2003) among others. Samuelson takes home the honor over finalists De’Janae Boykin (Charles H. Flowers High School – Springdale, Maryland), Kalani Brown (Salmen High School – Slidell, Louisiana), Naphessa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy – St. Louis, Missouri), Asia Durr (St. Pius X Catholic High School – Atlanta, Georgia) and Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels High School – Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
As the top-ranked player in the 2015 class, and the no. 1 player on the ESPN 100 list, Simmons has achieved success throughout his high school career on and off the floor. On the court, Simmons led his team to back-to-back high school national championships in 2013 and 2014. He also won a silver medal as a member of the Australian U17 national team at the 2012 FIBA World Championships. Off the court, Simmons takes pride in volunteering with Basketball Buddies, a program where high school athletes serve as positive role models and mentors to younger students.
"I am honored to accept the 2015 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award. It is humbling to be selected from a group of my peers, all of whom I consider to be high caliber players,” said Simmons. “This is an exciting time in my life and I'm very happy that the hard work is paying off. I am fortunate to play on a great team at Montverde and to have skilled coaches who have helped develop my game.”
Like Simmons, Samuelson is the top-rated player in the female 2015 class. During her career she has won five gold medals as a member of Team USA, which includes a gold at the U17 FIBA World Championships where Samuelson served as captain and leading scorer. She was named to the USA Today All-USA First Team in 2014 and is a finalist for the 2015 Naismith Girls High School Player of the Year award. Off the court, she has volunteered with Down Syndrome Association of Orange County, Hoopstars, which is a basketball league for adults with special needs, and Buddy Walk for children with disabilities. Academically, she has also made her school’s honor roll all four years of high school and maintained a 4.26 grade point average.
“I am truly grateful to receive the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award,” said Sameulson. “It is an honor to be associated with the list of great players who have won this award before me and receive an award from a coach who has accomplished so much on and off the court.”
Simmons and Samuelson will both receive their Morgan Wooten Player of the Year award at an official award presentation on March 31 in Chicago. On April 1, they will take to the court at the 2015 McDonald’s All American Games at Chicago’s United Center. The Girls Game begins at 5:30 p.m. CT. The Boys Game will tip-off at 8:00 p.m. CT.
Tickets to the 2015 McDonald’s All American Games are available now through Ticketmaster or charge-by-phone at 1-866-909-GAME. Tickets start at $10 and include free parking. Net proceeds from the Games benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The Games have raised more than $11 million for RMHC since 1978.
For more information about the McDonald’s All American Games, POWERADE Jam Fest or Game Week activities in Chicago, please visit www.mcdaag.com and follow us @McDAAG.
Proud sponsors of the 2015 McDonald’s All American Games include POWERADE®, Coca Cola®, adidas®, American Family Insurance, THE ROCK®, Fathead®, Lids® and Athletico Physical Therapy.