Posted On: 04/12/18 2:12 PM
The grassroots season is officially upon us. However, there is still time to wrap up yet another great high school season. Mr. Basketball is the most prestigious individual prize given away. The candidates below earned consideration for the award due to their strong play on the court and their teams success.
2018 Mr. Basketball
Nico Mannion 6’2 PG 2020 Pinnacle
Mannion was one of the leaders in the state in scoring and assists while leading Pinnacle to the schools first boys basketball state championship. Mannion’s heroic play down the stretch of the semifinal game against Desert Vista was vital to the team’s success and eventual state championship. In the state championship, Mountain Pointe got quite the demonstration of what Mannion is capable of. He got into the paint at will and it felt like he scored or created for others on almost every possession.
While Pinnacle loses Mason Johnson and Spencer Rattler, Trent Brown appears to be getting back to his old self. Further, Pinnacle returns Mannion as well as Jordan Mains and up and coming prospects Tosh Baker and Marcus Libman. This team should be the favorite for yet another state championship.
2018 Mr. Basketball Candidates:
Kyle Fischer 6’5 SF 2018 Sunnyslope
Fischer finished his high school career as a two time state champion. He made his team and teammates better every game due to the things he brings to the table. For instance, he is one of the best passing wings in the state, if not the best. Moreover, he rebounds the basketball extremely well and is a tough on-ball defender. In addition to being solid in these ways, Fischer is an improved shooter who finishes at the rim at a high rate.
Jaelen House 6’2 PG 2019 Shadow Mountain (ASU)
House was the runner-up to Mannion as he was ferocious on the defensive end. He does a great job of getting his hands in the passing lane as well as harassing the opposing ball handler. His skill set on that end of the floor created a number of easy buckets for Shadow Mountain this season. In addition to being stout on the defensive end of the basketball, which was vital to the state championship come back, he is an improved shooter from deep who finishes well in the paint. House has a high ceiling and will be a key contributor at ASU.
Jovan Blacksher 5’10 PG 2019 Shadow Mountain
Blacksher is one of the most skilled guards in the state. He is as effective of a guard as there is in regards to using on-ball screens. Further, he has a consistent shot from deep and mid-range. His ability to dictate the tempo of the game aids him in being one of the best point guards in the west coast. Moreover, he provides another defensive nightmare at the guard position for Shadow Mountain. Much like House, he is a lockdown defender who anticipates well. These two were a defensive nightmare for opponents.
Nikc Jackson 6’8 PF 2018 Rancho Solano
Jackson transferred to Rancho Solano after playing one season at Sunnyside High School in Tucson. Needless to say, his transfer played a huge role in Rancho’s state championship run. The big man has improved his upper body mass and is playing even more physical than he has in the past. Moreover, he has improved his mid-range consistency. Jackson is one of the top prospects in the state and demonstrated that throughout the course of the season and playoffs.
Ricardo Villanueva 6’0 SG/SF 2018 Winslow
Villanueva was crucial in Winslow winning the 2A state championship. While he was a long shot, his solid play and a state championship made Villanueva worthy of being mentioned in this category. Villanueva was more than just an emotional leader for the team, he led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. His dominating play was the key to Winslow’s success and eventual state championship.