FAIRBANKS — Scooter Bynum already was the recipient of the Gatorade Alaska Boys Basketball Player of the Year. On Tuesday, the Monroe Catholic High School senior received a Gatorade state honor for his favorite sport.
Bynum garnered the Gatorade Alaska Baseball Player of the Year just two months after being named the award’s boys basketball player of the year for the 49th State.
“It means a lot, it means that hard work pays off,” the 6-foot-1, 185-pound center fielder said at Growden Memorial Park following Tuesday night’s doubleheader against Delta Junction.
“I think it shows the effort that the coaches help me out with coming out her, when nobody else wants to come out and throw BP (batting practice) with you and stuff like that,’’ Bynum added. “It just shows that I’m well
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Bynum, also a standout football player for the Rams, is finalist for the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year Award, and among its past recipients are New York Yankees shorstop and captain Derek Jeter and Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester.
He’s only the fourth athlete in the nation in the 29-year history of Gatorade Award to receive the honor for basketball and baseball in the same year.
“That’s really special because I had no idea until this morning, when I got a text from one of my friends,” Bynum said.
“It’s an honor to just be mentioned in the Gatorade Player of the Year association at all. So just to be nominated and get selected for both of these means a to me, and I’d like to thank everybody who helped me out.”
The Gatorade Award is presented to high school athletes in 12 sports in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia during the school year. It recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field.
Among those to whom he’s grateful are Monroe head baseball coach Dan Clark and his assistant coaches.
“They make sure that I stay humble and they make sure that I know that there’s always something I can learn, and that I can always get better,’’ Bynum said.
“Every now and then when I dog it in practice, they’ll get on me a little extra hard,’’ “They hold everybody to a standard at Monroe Catholic in any sport. It’s a high standard, and if you’re achieving, they’ll call you out on it.”
Clark said he and his staff emphasized being a team to all their players, including Bynum.
“The season is so short and it’s not hard to get caught up in individual statistics, and individual statistics is a driver,’’ said Clark,
“but we emphasize everyone to be a team.
“When Scooter is on the field, he works very hard,’’ Clark said. “He’s a good example for the younger players to see how to play in terms of how to do things. We always look toward him as a leader by example.”
After Tuesday, Bynum was batting .632 with 10 RBI, three home runs, 12 runs scored and five stolen bases through eight games for the Rams.
He helped spark the Rams to a 15-5 win over the Huskies in the first game of the doubleheader, hitting 3 for 4 with two triples, a two-run home run and two runs scored. His third homer of the season occurred during a seven-run burst in the bottom of the third inning for Monroe (4-4).
“You approach every season wanting to make the playoffs,’’ he said. “We played every game hard, and I just wanted to try to help my team win. If I happen to get an individual award while doing that, it’s just a cherry on top.”
Bynum graduated last week with a 3.18 grade-point average and he’s headed to Arizona Western College on a baseball scholarship.
The National Honor Society member has volunteered as a tutor in his school. He’s also assisted in a first-grade classroom and he’s volunteered preparing meals for the needy.
Bynum was one of the reason that Monroe Catholic’s boys basketball team captured its third straight Class 3A state title in March in Anchorage and finished the season 32-0. He was the Rams’ leading scorer and rebounding, averaging 13 points and six rebounds per contest along with two steals and two assists.
He was named the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches 3A Boys Player of the Year and was also a first-team selection on its all-state team.
Coincidentally, the same field where he helped Monroe defeat Delta Junction on Tuesday will also be where he plays next month with the Alaska Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League, a summer league for college players.
“It’s going to be a tremendous challenge because I know there’s some real studs coming in here, and I’m going to be competing for some playing time,’’ Bynum said. “It should be fun. I like to think that I would get to play a little bit in front of the home crowd, I’ve always sat in the stands and watched these guys. These guys are always great and they always fill the stands.
“It’s fantastic and I’m so happy that I get to be a part of it,’’ he said.
Something else that Bynum may be a part of is next week’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
“I’ve heard some peeps, some heres and theres,’’ he said with a smile. “I’m not going to say too much, we’re just going to see how it goes. Hopefully, somebody will surprise me.”
He’s attracted attention from several major league scouts. In late March, he played for the Langley Blaze, a senior youth baseball program from British Columbia, in a tournament in Arizona against minor-league players from major league teams.
Bynum played in four games in Peoria and Goodyear, Arizona, against prospects from the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres.
He compiled a .583 batting average with seven hits in 12 at-bats and he stole four
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.