The top girls and boys basketball players in six classifications of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association were honored by being named the winners of the 2023 Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards last week. After an outstanding season, and with two more years to go in her high school career, the winner of the 2023 Class 1A Miss Basketball award is Blair Baugus of Wayne County High School.
A statewide committee of sportswriters selected the winners based on performance during the 2022-2023 regular season. Academics and character were also taken into consideration. High school head basketball coaches and members of the media nominated the finalists.
“This is such an outstanding honor for all 36 of the young men and women recognized this evening at the Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards,” said Mark Reeves, Executive Director of the TSSAA. “They were here not only due to their athletic ability that they displayed on the court throughout the season, but just as much for their outstanding character and academic achievements.”
Baugus, who is only a sophomore at WCHS, has averaged 18.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season. She’s developed into a premier forward in the state, and already holds college offers from Middle Tennessee State, Lipscomb, Chattanooga and North Alabama.
“Coming in as a freshman, people didn’t really know what I could do,” Baugus said. “So they weren’t really focused on me as much. This year, it’s a change. But I feel like I’ve gotten adjusted to it very quickly.”
Baugus is never far from a gym. She rarely spends her free time away from it. It’s a habit she’s picked up from her parents, Jerrod and Ginger Baugus.
Jerrod, a Mr. Football finalist at WCHS as a senior in 1990, played football, basketball, and baseball at North Alabama while Ginger played the 1995-96 basketball season at North Alabama.
“The great thing about Blair is she’s humble,” Jerrod said. “She’s quiet and humble, but she’s extremely competitive. She’s one of the more competitive people I’ve been around. But she loves basketball, and she loves her teammates.”
She shocked her parents by growing to six feet. “I didn’t know she would get this tall,” Jerrod said. “She’s about a half-inch taller than me, and she’s taller than her mom who’s about 5’6” or 5’7”. I guess God just gave her some height.”
“She makes my job easier,” said Molly Ashley, WCHS Head Basketball Coach. “Blair is never satisfied. She’s always in the gym. She’s a joy to coach.”
Senator Page Walley read a resolution in honor of Blair at the Tennessee General Assembly. The resolution stated, in part:
“WHEREAS, a statewide committee of sportswriters recently selected Blair Nicole Baugus of Wayne County High School as TSSAA Division I, Class A Miss Basketball based upon her outstanding performance on the hardwood during the 2022-2023 season; and her superior academic record – which includes a 4.0 grade point average – and upstanding character were also taken into consideration when the committee selected Ms. Baugus to receive this prestigious award, which honors the best Division I, Class A female basketball player in the entire state…Ms. Baugus also holds the distinction of being the fastest-ever Lady Wildcat to reach 1,000 career points; and…Baugus rounded a host of season honorifics, having previously been named District 10-A All-Season Most Valuable Player, District 10-A All-Tournament, Region 5-A All-Tournament, and TSSAA All-State Tournament…Ms. Baugus’ outstanding accomplishment is a great source of pride for her parents, Jerrod and Ginger Baugus, her school, and her hometown of Waynesboro; and she exemplifies the spirit, determination, and perseverance for which Tennesseans are notable, and she is richly deserving of our approbation on this special occasion.”
Portions of article from George Robinson, The Tennessean