Omaha Creighton Prep senior and Nebraska signee Akol Arop has been named the boys Gatorade Player of the Year for Nebraska.
According to a release, “The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Arop as Nebraska’s best high school boys basketball player.”
Arop, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound forward, is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year which will be announced in March.
Arop is the fourth Creighton Junior Jay to be selected for the award. Omaha Burke’s Shereef Mitchell, who has signed with Creighton after spending a post-grad year at Sunrise Christian Academy, took home the award last season. Arop’s older brother Aguek was selected as the Gatorade Player of the Year at Omaha South in 2016 and is now a freshman at San Diego State.
Arop averaged 19.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 62 percent from the field as a senior. He led the Junior Jays to a 22-5 record and a trip to the Class A state tournament. He recorded 19 double-doubles this season and scored a career-high 35 points against Omaha Benson early in the season.
Off the court, Arop has volunteered his time tutoring elementary school kids and participating in community clean-up initiatives. He has maintained a B average in his classes.
According to the release: “As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform ‘Play it Forward,’ Arop also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.’
After Prep’s run in the state tournament came to an end, Hail Varsity caught up with Arop to reflect back on his career and discuss what is next for him.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.