Jhileiya Dunlap’s week keeps getting better.
After helping Dreher win its third Class 3A title in the past five seasons on Saturday, Dunlap was named South Carolina Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year on Wednesday.
Dunlap is the second Dreher player to win the award since it began in 1986. Keturah Jackson won in 2004. Dunlap’s selection continues a strong run for Midlands players, who have won the award nine times since 2004 and 13 times overall.
“This award really means a lot. I really worked hard,” Dunlap said. “I want to thank coach (Teresa) Jones, the best coach of them all who made me stay on track. She always told me I could be the best girls basketball player coming out of Dreher, but if I wouldn't get my work ethic right I wouldn't get there or these awards.”
After playing a handful of games as an eighth grader, the 6-foot-2 Dunlap was a four-year starter for the Blue Devils and finished with 1,665 points in her career. She showed the ability to play all three positions.
"She is one of the most talented players I have coached," Jones said. "Jhileiya has the natural ability to score, rebound, block shots and can handle the ball like a guard. She has been in the top of her class since she began her high school basketball career. She has a great attitude and is a joy to coach."
Dunlap is the 20th best forward in the Class of 2016, according to ESPN and was a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American game.
The North Carolina signee averaged 19.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.0 blocks a game. Dunlap scored a career-high 37 points against Camden and pulled down a career-best 19 rebounds against Richland Northeast.
Dunlap had a double-double in four of her final six games and had a triple-double of 19 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks in the upper state title game against Wren.
Dunlap will close out her high school career by playing in the Capital City Senior All-Star Classic on Saturday and in the Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic on March 19.
Midlands Gatorade S.C. Player of Year selections
2016 – Jhileiya Dunlap, Dreher
2014 – A’ja Wilson, Heathwood Hall
2013 – Alaina Coates, Dutch Fork
2012 – Asia Dozier, Spring Valley
2011 – Xylina McDaniel, Spring Valley
2009 – Morgan Stroman, Lower Richland
2008 – Morgan Stroman, Lower Richland
2007 – Morgan Stroman, Lower Richland
2004 – Keturah Jackson, Dreher
2000 – Nikki Jett, Columbia
1997 – Elena Vishniakova, Heathwood Hall
1992 – Natalie Funderburk, Camden
1989 – Jessica Barr, Batesburg-Leesville