NCHSAA Athletes of the Year Named at Annual Meeting (2000-01)

CHAPEL HILL--- The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has named Molly Pyles of Hendersonville High School and Derrele Mitchell of R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem as winners of the 2001 NCHSAA Athlete of the Year awards.

These are the top athletic awards given by the NCHSAA to honor the most outstanding male and female high school athletes in the state. They were presented at the Dean Smith Center on the University of North Carolina campus during the NCHSAA's Annual Meeting.

Both Pyles and Mitchell were nominated and selected by a special panel of media representatives from across the state. They were each presented with the Pat Best Memorial Trophy, named for the former Goldsboro High principal and president of the NCHSAA who died unexpectedly in 1988.

"We congratulate these fine student-athletes on their great achievements during their high school careers," said Charlie Adams, executive director of the NCHSAA. "Both Molly and Derrele have tremendously impressive credentials along the lines of the previous outstanding winners of this award. We certainly wish them the best in the future."

Mitchell, a 6-4, 200-pounder was a two-sport star at R.J. Reynolds, which has won the last two NCHSAA state 4-A basketball championships. A starter on both of those teams, he averaged 13.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season for the Demons and was the Most Valuable Player in the state 4-A championship game with a 22-point performance in the victory over Raleigh Leesville Road.

He was selected to play for the North Carolina all-stars in the Shrine Bowl football game. Mitchell grabbed 24 passes for 594 yards as a senior, averaging 22.9 yards per reception, and caught eight scoring passes on a team that primarily ran the veer option. He rushed 15 times for 174 yards and also returned 15 kicks for 500 yards and a pair of scores. The Reynolds senior has signed a football grant-in-aid with the University of North Carolina.

Pyles is a three-sport star, in volleyball, basketball and track. The Hendersonville standout has set one mark that can't be broken-she is an unprecedented four-time Most Valuable Player in the state 1-A volleyball championships, won by the Lady Bearcats four consecutive years. She is a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina in volleyball and was Smoky Mountain Conference Player of the Year three times.

In basketball, she started for four years and led her team to a second-place regional finish this season. She scored 1,331 career points and hauled down 1,097 career rebounds. During her senior year, Pyles scored 15.6 points and grabbed 10.7 rebounds per game while shooting 68 percent from the floor. She earned all-conference honors in four events in track this spring and last year was a state qualifier in three events, including a pair of relays and the 100 meters.

Pyles will be attending UNC on a volleyball scholarship.

Contact: Rick Strunk (919-962-7786)