Gatorade Player of the Year Breanna Stewart Is the Real Deal

Here's whyh Breanna Stewart, Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, is going to turn the game of basketball on its head.

Despite carrying the label of "the next big thing" in women's basketball, Breanna Stewart didn't make a big production out of her college decision. In fact, in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Stewart revealed that she signed her letter of intent to play at UCONN on the hood of her car. "I didn't need it to be a big deal," she said.

But Stewart is a big deal. Some experts are already predicting the 6'4" forward could be even better than WNBA legends Lisa Leslie, Tina Charles and Candace Parker. One of the most versatile athletes on her high school team (Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.), Stewart can handle the ball with precision, nail perimeter jump shots, block shots and dunk like the boys.

"She can score from wherever," UCONN guard Caroline Doty said in an interview with ESPN; "if she's left open outside the 3-point line, she can nail it. If she's underneath the basket, she can work around the defense and still get up for a layup. It's funny. There's no bad angle for her...She's an unbelievable finisher. It's pretty much, if you lob the ball up, she can go up and get it. It's great not only having someone that big and long, but someone that athletic."

Although Stewart's talent, versatility and athleticism would seem sufficient to guarantee her success, her attitude is the icing on the cake.

At the Gatorade Player of the Year Awards (where she won the award for Female Athlete of the Year) STACK asked Stewart what it felt like to be compared with legends like Leslie and Parker. "Being put on the same level as all these other athletes just shows that hard work pays off," she said. "Obviously I want to continue my success, so I've got to keep working hard and setting goals, making even higher goals. Winning awards does a lot to motivate you."

Instead of letting awards go to her head, Stewart uses them to motivate her to keep improving. "They just show that so far you're doing well, but you've always got a lot to improve on. There's always room to grow."

Last season, the Lady Huskies reached the Final Four. This year, with Stewart on their roster, the team has its sights set on a national championship.

""It's going to be great," Doty said to ESPN, "not only for the team, but I think for women's basketball."

Hear everything Stewart had to say about her performance and goals by viewing the following video of the 2012 Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards Round Table.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock