Rose, Connell, Thurman named Player of the Year
MONTGOMERY – McGill-Toolen Catholic High School senior Barry Dunning Jr., and Hazel Green senior Samiya Steele earned the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s top basketball honor. Dunning was named “Mr. Basketball” for the just completed 2021-22 high school basketball season and Steele was chosen “Miss Basketball.”
The announcement was made by Ben Thomas of the Alabama Media Group at the ASWA’s annual awards banquet held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. The ASWA’s annual Player of the Year Banquet was sponsored by ALFA Insurance and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association.
Dunning, an Arkansas signee and two-time Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year, was named the state’s 40th Mr. Basketball by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on Thursday in Montgomery. He became just the fifth player from the Mobile area to receive the honor, which annually recognizes the recipients as the top boys’ and girls’ high school basketball players in the state. Past Mobile recipients include Dazon Ingram of Theodore (2015); Kennedy Winston of Blount (2002); Sam Haginas of UMS-Wright (1998); and Queintonia Higgins, Fairhope (1989). Calhoun’s J.D. Davison, who just finished his freshman season with the University of Alabama, won the Mr. Basketball honor in 2021 and 2020.
“We always said Barry was going to play his best basketball as a senior,” McGill-Toolen head coach Phillip Murphy said to al.com. “He is a late bloomer in my opinion. He has a very high ceiling. He definitely played the best basketball of his high school career in his last two weeks. It’s going to be fun to see what he does at Arkansas.”
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward led McGill-Toolen to a 30-5 record and the Class 6A state semifinals this season. He was also named the Class 6A Player of the Year at the banquet, averaged 25.3 points and 12.9 rebounds this season. He also averaged 3.3 steals, 2.6 assists and 1.7 blocks for the Yellow Jackets. He was also Al.com’s Coastal Alabama Player of the Year.
Dunning was named the Alabama MVP in the 2022 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic played earlier in March. He finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists in Alabama’s 96-89 victory.
Hazel Green’s is the first Hazel Green player to be selected Miss Basketball and the 35th award winner since first starting in 1988.
“When you talk about Hazel Green girls’ basketball over the last couple of years, you think Samiya Steele,” Hazel Green coach Tim Miller told AL.com. “She is the heart and soul of the program.”
Steele averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists with 65 steals for Class 6A champion Hazel Green, which finished undefeated with a 35-0 record while winning its fifth straight title. The Trojans also ended with the AHSAA’s current longest winning streak (59) still intact. The Alabama State signee who participated in the recent Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game won by Alabama 89-81, finished her prep career with more than 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. She was selected the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and earned Class 6A Final Four MVP for the second straight season. Hazel Green was 141-5 during her final four years in high school with four state titles.
She became the fifth Huntsville area player to earn Miss Basketball honors in the 35-year history of the award. Other past recipients include: Shaquera Wade, Huntsville (2025); Jasmine Jones, Bob Jones (2012); Jala Harris, Bob Jones (2009); Tasheika Morris, Butler (1999); and April Nance, Butler (1997).
Three boys and three girls from each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications and the AISA were recognized as finalists and were in attendance at Thursday’s banquet. A player of the year in each gender was selected by the ASWA All-State Committee comprised of member sportswriters from across the state.
The ASWA’s Boys’ Class Players of the Year included: (Class 7A) Labaron Philon, Baker; (Class 6A) Barry Dunning Jr., McGill-Toolen Catholic; (Class 5A) Martavious Russell, Sipsey Valley; (Class 4A) Antonio Kite, Anniston; (Class 3A) Cole Millican, Plainview; (Class 2A) Anthony Johnson, Midfield; (Class 1A) Will Bonner, Belgreen; (AISA) Robert Rose, Autauga Academy.
The ASWA Girls’ Class Players of the Year were: (Class 7A) Reniya Kelly, Hoover; (Class 6A) Samiya Steele, Hazel Green; (Class 5A) Olivia Vandergriff, Guntersville; (Class 4A) Emma Kate Tittle, Deshler; (Class 3A) Ella Jane Connell, Prattville Christian; (Class 2A) Molly Heard, Pisgah; (Class 1A) Timya Thurman, Linden; (AISA) Jasmyn Burts, Glenwood.
Kite also was named Class 4A Player of the Year last season. Pisgah’s Heard also earned Class 3A Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2020, and Prattville Christian’s Connell was the 2021 Class 3A Player of the Year.