BLOG: Eli Brooks, DeAireus Brown get my all-state vote.
I've never had the opportunity to cast a vote for any sort of all-star or all-state team.
Of course, I've only really been covering the high school sports scene for a little more than a year, so it's not like the opportunities have passed me by.
But, after casting my votes for the Pennsylvania boys' basketball all-state teams this past week, I learned two things. The first is that it's incredibly exciting to have your voice be heard when trying to select the 20 best boys' basketball players in each of the four classes in the state. It's a lot like the rewards of voting in an election, just you're voting for high school athletes who performed at heightened levels all year, making themselves and their teammates better, rather than voting for loudmouth politicians who act like children much younger than these high school kids.
Second, there's also a sense of disappointment that you can't include all of the players nominated on your ballot because each player is deserving of being recognized for their strong play. But, that is what makes getting named so special. It means that you were among the best of the best and it recognizes those kids who earn an all-state selection, while forcing those who just missed the honor to take their play to the next level the following season, if they're an underclassmen.
How I voted: I won't go through all 80 names that I selected to one of the three all-state teams in each class, but just know, it's actually a lot easier to name your six first-team members, than to decide who the 14 players who will earn second- and third-team recognition. That's because usually, you can tell who the six best players in the state are based on looking at their bios that were submitted from various writers around the state who've covered them this season and longer. Those first-team guys have NCAA Division-I college pedigrees, like the three Penn State commits from Roman Catholic, Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick. Or, like a Lonnie Walker IV from Reading, who is the top-rated Class of 2016 player in the state. Or, a Dylan Painter from Hershey, who's committed to play for Villanova next year. They're a cut above the rest of the nominated players and had previous seasons that earned them all-state selections.
The ironic thing about most of the first-team guys that I chose in each of the four classes is that, from a pure statistics standpoint, they weren't always the best. Sure, these guys easily could've put up close to 30 points per game, but their real contributions were how they made the rest of their teammates better just by being on the floor. The guards still got their high-teens points per games, but dished out eight or more assists per game. The big men were forces on the boards, averaging a double-double on the year, while also showcasing some slick passing skills by averaging around five assists per game and also a few blocks per game.
But, when I got to the second and third teams, that's when it became tough to narrow down who would make the cut and who wouldn't. Then, I had to put them in the correct order, at least in my opinion, and a lot of these guys were averaging north of 20 points per game and had local accolades that included player of the year honors for their leagues and districts. Usually, I could tell who I wanted to be among the top of the second-team list because these were guys who were up for consideration to squeak into the first team, but didn't quite have the pedigree as the guys who did.
Picks 10-20, however, were a bit tougher because there were typically 25 guys who I could've selected, just not enough spots. The hardest part about these guys, too, was that all of them had comparable statistics, and like I said above, it's hard to exclude guys who had great seasons from being recognized around the state.
Local athletes: York County had three guys nominated to be voted on by the pool of some 50 writers.
Spring Grove junior Eli Brooks, Central York senior Jared Wagner and York Country Day junior DeAireus Brown were our three nominations. Brooks and Brown were no-brainers, seeing as how they were not only two of the most electrifying athletes in the area, but Brooks led the York-Adams League in scoring and has 10 D-I offers already, while, if we tracked YCD's statistics, Brown easily would've been in the top three and probably not far behind Brooks for the scoring lead.
Wagner, however, was an addition that I didn't initially include when I nominated players from the area. It was the reporter organizing the voting, Michael Bullock, who suggested Wagner, which speaks volumes about the player Wagner is. Wagner didn't light up the stat sheet and, quite frankly, does a lot of things on the court that can rub the opposition and its fans the wrong way. But, he was the heart and soul of the Panthers, who entered the year with few expectations, but still won the Y-A League Division I crown and a spot in the league and District 3-AAAA title games. Wagner also helped Central qualify for states. He was the perfect example of a guy whose intangibles outweighed his statistics.
In the end, I nominated Brooks as a second-team Class AAAA member and Brown as a third-team Class A member, but just couldn't find a spot for Wagner.
The official results should come out sometime over the next few days, so check back to see the official boys' basketball all-state teams.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com