No one in the state was better than Aaron Nesmith this season.
The Porter-Gaud senior was named the 2017-18 Gatorade South Carolina Boys Basketball Player of the Year on Thursday.
Nesmith is the first winner from Porter-Gaud, a school that boasts current NBA standout Khris Middleton among its alumni. He’s the first winner from the Lowcountry since R.J. Slawson of Fort Dorchester won in 2010. As a state Player of the Year, Nesmith becomes a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, that'll be announced in March.
"I was shocked, honestly," Nesmith said. "I was a part of a really good team my entire career at Porter so I never had major outstanding stats because my teammates were always just as good as I was and we played as a team to win every game. There are a lot of very good players in this state. I'm very happy and excited to be the one Gatorade picked. It's an honor that I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
Nesmith averaged 21 points, five rebounds and two assists while guiding Porter-Gaud to its third straight state championship this season. The East Cooper Player of the Year earned Most Outstanding Player honors and set the three-point record at the prestigious Chick-Fil-A Classic in December. A week later, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Roundball Classic after leading the Cyclones to their first title in the Lowcountry's national showcase. Porter-Gaud closed the season on a 16-game winning streak, during which Nesmith scored his 2,000th career point.
“I’ve seen all of the great players in our state, and Aaron, in my opinion, is the complete package,” Northwood Academy coach Anthony Houston said. “He’s a stud player on the court while continuing to display actions of selflessness for his teammates to follow. As an opposing coach, I’m happy I won’t face him anymore.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year selection committee chooses winners based not only on athletic excellence but academics and personal character as well. Nesmith, a Vanderbilt signee, holds a 3.45 GPA and is a member of Porter-Gaud’s Global Union club, a volunteer program organized to raise awareness of the importance of diversity. As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Nesmith will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant as part of Gatorade’s Play It Forward program. He also now becomes eligible for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant.
Recent Gatorade South Carolina Boys Basketball Players of the Year include: Jalek Felton (2016-17, Gray Collegiate Academy), Joseph Battle (2015-16, Abbeville High School), P.J. Dozier (2014-15, Spring Valley High School), Seventh Woods (2013-14, Hammond School), Justin McKie (2012-13, Irmo High School), Brice Johnson (2011-12 & 2010-11, Edisto High School), RJ Slawson (2009-10, Fort Dorchester High School), Milton Jennings (2008-09 & 2007-08, Pinewood Preparatory School).