Player of the Year honors were determined by a statewide media vote (Over 25 media members from all parts of the state) of people that work in media, radio, newspaper, television and finalized by Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas and Conor Nicholl of Sports in Kansas. Players of the Year and Finalists are eligible for a Sports in Kansas Patch. Stay on our feed over the next few days for updated coverage and all-state teams for both boys and girls.
2021 Sports in Kansas All-Classes & 4A Player of the Year
Payton Verhulst, Bishop Miege
Bishop Miege 6-foot-1 senior Payton Verhulst has a strong case as the most accomplished girls’ basketball player in Kansas history. Verhulst and former Derby standout Kennedy Brown (now at Oregon State) are the only two McDonald’s All-Americans from a KSHSAA school since the game began just a little less than 20 years ago. Verhulst was a three-time SIK Class 4A Player of the Year. She helped Miege to second, first, Forever Four and first place state showings in her four years.
She has signed with Louisville and was a second team Naismith High School All-American. Verhulst collected Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior. She was ranked No. 8 nationally by ESPN for the Class of 2021. Verhulst served as captain of the 2019 USA Women’s Basketball U16 National Team.
This year, Verhulst returned to volleyball after a year away from the sport. She led Miege to the 4A state championship and earned 4A Volleyball Player of the Year. In basketball, she was the Most Outstanding Player at the 4A state tournament. She delivered 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the championship versus McPherson. Overall, Verhulst helped Miege earn a 56-24 victory against Wamego in the state quarterfinals, defeat Andale, 55-40, in the state semifinals and beat McPherson, 51-36, in the championship.
Miege finished 23-1 with a lone regular season loss to Shawnee Mission Northwest, the undefeated Class 6A champion. That marks Miege’s only loss to a Kansas school in the last three seasons. Verhulst averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 3.6 assists and 3.5 blocks per contest this winter. This season, Verhulst shot 46.4 percent from the field and 82.7 percent from the foul line. Overall, Verhulst played in 96 career games with 1,523 points, 656 rebounds, 314 assists, 285 steals and 250 blocks. She comes from a highly talented family. Payton’s mother played at Duke, father at Rockhurst (Mo.) and older sister Ashton is currently a freshman on the Division I University of Central Florida squad.
Next Level Eclipse is a proud supporter of high school basketball in Kansas. Congrats to our very own Payton Verhulst on the All-Classes Player of the Year.
Sports in Kansas 4A Player of the Year Finalists
Ava Jones, Nickerson
Payton Verhulst, Bishop Miege
Grace Pyle, McPherson
Kori Babcock, Chanute
Kimalee Cook, Towanda-Circle
Madilyn Melton, Louisburg
Emajin McCallup, Bishop Miege
Clara Edwards, Clay Center
Katy Harris, Atchison
Harper Schreiner, Eudora
Katelyn Fairchild, Andale
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