Tiffany Gooden has seen her fair share of basketball over the years.
Gooden was the original superstar girls basketball player in Fort Wayne with an All-American career at Snider, which included the 1994 Miss Basketball award, and then going on to a successful college career at Iowa and a professional stint.
Gooden has seen it all on the basketball court and despite a law career that began in Fort Wayne and has her currently based in Indianapolis, she still knows the high school basketball scene in the Summit City.
Gooden will be on hand tonight at Parkview Hospital's Mirro Center to present the 25th annual Tiffany Gooden Award to a deserving male or female SAC basketball player from a strong pool of players, narrowed down to four finalists.
“This year, we have a unique group of finalists for the Tiffany Gooden Award,” Gooden said.
The awards ceremony, which also honors the All-SAC and All-Northeast Indiana first team members, is co-sponsored by The Journal Gazette and Parkview Sports Medicine.
Here are the four finalists, two boys and two girls players, with Gooden's unique take on the attributes that helped each player rise to the top of the conference.
Keion Brooks, North Side
The junior forward averaged 23.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Legends (21-6), who won the SAC tournament title and advanced to the Class 4A regional finals.
Tiffany's take: “Keion Brooks is one of the top juniors in the nation and has the size, athleticism, skill and leadership that sets him apart and makes him a highly recruited prize for most of the top Division I programs.”
Craig Young, Wayne
The junior forward had 17.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists as the Generals went 16-7 and tied for second at 7-2 in the SAC.
Tiffany's take: “Craig Young is one of the best all-around athletes that I've seen, and he could literally compete at the Division I level in three sports.”
Carissa Garcia, Concordia
The junior guard averaged 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists as the Cadets went 17-8 and advanced to the Class 3A regional semifinals.
Tiffany's take: “Carissa Garcia is a versatile guard with a great handle, effective mid-range and 3-point shot and can attack the basket while creating opportunities for her teammates.”
Sylare Starks, Homestead
The junior guard averaged 18.1 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in her first season with the Spartans after transferring from Concordia. Homestead (19-3) won the SAC regular season title but fell to conference rival South Side in a Class 4A sectional opener.
Tiffany's take: “Sylare Starks had an impressive junior season and made an immediate impact at Homestead. ... She displayed a 'clutch' gene when she hit a go-ahead basket with the conference title on the line and showed great leadership throughout the season.”