Morton wins Gatorade Pa. Player of Year
Credits team, coaches, fans for prestigious honor
Butler's Ethan Mortan drives to the hoop against Upper Saint Clair in the PIAA playoffs.
SEB FOLTZ/BUTLER EAGLE
While Butler's boys basketball postseason run toward a possible state title may be in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic, the accolades keep coming for Golden Tornado standout point guard Ethan Morton.
The 6-foot-6 senior was awarded as the Gatorade Pennsylvania Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“It's the stuff you work for,” Morton said of the honor.
While it is an individual acknowledgement, the soft-spoken senior was quick to credit his teammates, coaches and the Butler community for the honor.
“This type of accomplishment doesn't happen without a great team,” he said.
Past Pennsylvania honorees include NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
Other NBA players such as Dwight Howard, Karl Anthony Towns, Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd won their state's Gatorade Player of the Year as well.
“When you look at the list of players that have had it in the past, you have some unbelievably great players,” Morton said. “For me to be put on that list with those guys is definitely something special.”
But what might mean more to Morton are the other categories evaluated in the award process.
In addition to athletic excellence on the court, the Gatorade award — now in its 35th year — acknowledges athletes for academic achievements and exemplary character.
“It's a tribute to him and the fact of how good he is academically,” said Butler head boys basketball coach Matt Clement. “Ethan's dedication to the community of Butler is unmatched. This is what he's all about.”
Describing the other values that make up the award Morton said, “That means a lot. Those are the kind of values I try to embody, especially from the community standpoint. They've always been there for me. I can't give them enough appreciation for what they've done for me and this team.”
On the court, Morton averaged 22.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He was a big part in helping Butler to a 20-5 record.
Off the court, he has maintained a 4.0 GPA and is committed to attend Purdue University next fall, where he will also play basketball.
He also continues to be a pillar in the community.
“He's there watching the third-grade games, slapping high-fives with players,” Clement said. “He has no affiliation. He knows it's important to the program.”
Part of the award includes a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization, which Morton gets to choose. When asked Thursday, he said he was going to give the grant to Butler Area elementary-age basketball programs.
With the state recognition, Morton is now eligible for Gatorade National Player of the Year honors, which have been temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Morton is the first player in Butler's history to win the state player of the year. Robby Carmody of Mars won it in 2018 and Jence Rhoads of Slippery Rock earned the honor in 2007, both in basketball.
Knoch's Jordan Geist won the award in 2017 for track and field.
Gatorade annually awards player of the year honors to one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states in football, volleyball, cross country, basketball, baseball, softball and track with one National Player of the Year in each sport.