Zach Gilpin, who led Hampden Academy to its third consecutive Eastern Maine Class A championship this winter, was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Maine Boys Basketball Player of the Year on Friday morning.

The 6-foot-5-inch senior forward is the first Hampden player to win the statewide Gatorade award for boys basketball.

“This is a very well-deserved award for Zach,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett. “He’s put a lot of time into basketball and he’s been a great leader and great teammate for us.”

The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, and it distinguishes Gilpin as Maine’s best high school boys basketball player.

Gilpin averaged 23 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game this season in leading the Broncos to a 21-1 record. He previously was recognized as a finalist for the state’s Mr. Basketball award.

A 2013 Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team selection, Gilpin shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the free-throw line this season.

“He has the ability to create offense without depending on the 3-pointer or layups,” said Bartlett. “He’s able to score in transition, and this season he worked more with his back to the basket and showed himself to be someone who could finish with either hand and shoot a high percentage.”

A two-time Eastern Maine Class A tournament most valuable player and two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A player of the year, Gilpin led Hampden to the 2013 state championship during his junior season.

“Gilpin can take you on the block, and he’s a very good shooter,” said South Portland High School head coach Phil Conley. “He’s hard to defend. He brings the combination of an inside-outside game.

“You have to pick your poison with him. If you defend him on the inside, he’ll post you up, and if you double him in the post, he’ll take you outside. He’s a very, very good player.”

Gilpin also has maintained a 3.37 grade-point average in the classroom and has donated his time as a youth basketball instructor and on behalf of Coats for Kids and Hoops for Hope.

Gilpin has not yet determined his collegiate choice, though his options include Stonehill, Franklin Pierce and Bates.

The Gatorade Player of the Year selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports. They work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Gilpin joins two-time winner Garet Beal of Jonesport-Beals (2012-13 and 2011-12), Tyler McFarland of Camden Hills of Rockport (2010-11), Stefano Mancini of Falmouth (2009-10), Thomas Knight of Dirigo of Dixfield (2008-09), Ryan Martin of Maranacook of Readfield (2007-08) and Lewiston’s Troy Barnies (2006–07) as the most recent Gatorade Maine Boys Basketball Player of the Year honorees.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...