Posted On: 02/20/18 8:05 PM

The 5A player of the year race seemed to be pretty open before the season began. It still might be. As the playoffs approach, here are the players who may earn the coveted hardware.

Kiefer Edwards, Crater senior

If I were a betting man, I’d take Edwards as the 5A player of the year favorite. He’s the best player on the consensus second-best team in the state*. He’s averaging 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and has to be leading 5A and maybe the state in dunks this season. The 6-foot-6 athletic post makes each game a personal dunk contest. Guard Mason Vranes joked, “We’re used to it at this point,” because they’ve seen him so dunk so often. But, he’s also a monster rebounder, has a jump shot, and plays good defense. The Comets have Vranes, his younger brother Jayden Vranes and freshman Nathan Bittle, but it’s Edwards who is the biggest reason why they are one of the top contenders for the 5A crown.

*Crater is considered the second best team, although they are the best team in the best league. There is reason to believe they’re the best team in 5A.

Cade Roth, Silverton senior

The leading scorer on the top-rated team in state is usually a good bet to win the 5A player of the year, especially when he is a senior. Cade Roth checks those boxes, averaging 18.4 posts, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks for Silverton, ranked No. 1 in the OSAA rankings and media polls. Silverton has not lost to an Oregon opponent this season, with their only loss coming to national power Mater Dei (CA).

The reason Roth might not be the favorite is because he is not as well-rounded as some players. Roth is an absolutely phenomenal spot-up shooter. At 6-foot-5, he needs just a hair of space to get three-point attempts off and he hits a remarkable 47% of them. But, that’s by far his best offensive dimension. Silverton is balanced with a dark horse player of the year candidate in sophomore point guard David Gonzales (16 points, 3.8 assists), plus interior presence Levi Nielsen (11 points, 9 rebounds).

Isaac Lange, Thurston junior

One of the best athletes in 5A, Lange is averaging 19 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals for another 5A contender. He carries a heavy load for Thurston, but uses his athleticism to get into the paint for layups or short jumpers. He’s also shooting a very respectable 38% from deep this season. The Colts are 16-5 (8-4) in the tough Midwestern League, but are still ranked No. 3 by the OSAA. Lange has been their guy the entire year.

Jack Roche, Wilsonville junior

Wilsonville is, once again, the best team in the NWOC and Roche has been tremendous for them. A year ago, he started for the 5A state champion Wildcats and is now their top player. He averages 16.1 points, 6.7 assists and 1.8 steals. A smart passer and terrific shooter, he is shooting 44% from deep.

Matt Van Tassell, Mountain View senior

Van Tassell entered the season with the most expectation of any player in the Intermountain Conference and has delivered, averaging 20.2 points per game. He’s 6-foot-7 post, as evidenced by his 7 rebounds per game, but he can also shoot the ball (41% from deep and 81% from the free-throw line). However, he’s not even the leading scorer on his team. That would be point guard, Chase McClain, who is averaging 20.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game. It’s unlikely the 5A player of the year will be a Cougar, but these two are having standout seasons.

Others: Jake Costello, South Albany
Tariq Harris, Crescent Valley
Tyler Newsom, Pendleton