When Lawrence athletic director Bill MacManus and girls basketball coach John Donato called Nia Irving out of class for a meeting, she wasn’t sure what was going on.

“They tried to convince me I was in trouble,” Irving said.

Instead, Irving, a junior center at Lawrence, was asked to watch a video. At the end, she was congratulated on being this season’s Gatorade Maine Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Irving averaged 22.5 points and 14 rebounds per game this winter in leading the Bulldogs to the Class A title. She shot 52.8 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the line. In the state championship game, Irving had 27 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes, while shooting eight of 10 from the floor and making 11 of her 12 free throws.

“It’s hard to believe,” Irving said. “It’s like everything you would ever wish for, and it all happens at once.”

The video Irving watched lasted a total of 1 minute and 10 seconds. Athletes like Peyton Manning, Alonzo Mourning, Emmitt Smith and Abby Wambach talked about the award. Then Elena Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, introduced herself.

“Great season, Nia,” Delle Donne says in the video. “I hope you’re ready for more. Congrats on winning the 2014-2015 Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year Award. Welcome to the Gatorade Player of the Year family.”

“I had no idea I was up for it,” Irving said. “Coach Donato, my parents, and Mr. McManus, they all did a really good job of keeping it a secret from me.”

Irving plays for the Maine Maniacs AAU team. After missing AAU last year with a knee injury, she’d like to see the season through to its end in July. That’s more her focus at this point than the process of selecting a college.

“I’m really not rushing anything,” she said. “As of right now, I’m leaning more towards Division I.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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