With all due respect to our readers, who chose Anders Broman as their Player of the Year, the editors of Minnesota Hoops pick our own PoY. 2 years ago we agreed with our readers, and also picked Kevin Love as PoY. Last year we demurred, preferring Lindsay Whalen, who led the Minnesota Lynx to the 2011 WNBA title, to the readers' pick, Taylor Young of the St. Thomas women.
So this year? Well, we picked 10 finalists for the readers poll.
Gophers--Rachel Banham, Andre Hollins
Small College--Taylor Hall, Clayton Vette
High School Boys--Anders Broman, Tyus Jones
High School Girls--Nia Coffey, Rebekah Dahlman, Carlie Wagner.
1st, let's pick within categories. Between Banham and Hollins, for example, Banham was more consistent and her team would have been much more lost without her than the men without Hollins. Banham is a fairly easy pick.
Not so much between Hall and Vette, though I would venture that neither is going to be our PoY, so maybe it doesn't matter. But for the record, Vette, of Winona State, is the D2 national Player of the Year. Hall, of Bethel, meanwhile, was rated as the #3 D3 player in the country and the #13-rated player below D1. Tough call, but I guess you gotta go with Vette, whose team reached the D2 Elite 8.
Then, Broman or Tyus Jones? Again, all due respect to our readers and Broman's fans and friends, it's gotta be Tyus, if only because he led his team to the Class AAAA title, while Broman's team was eliminated in the state Class A 1st round. But in addition to that, college recruiters and the people who run the U.S. national teams would all agree that Tyus is more of a force on the basketball court. Somebody recently said he was the greatest player ever to come out of Minnesota. Well, maybe. I would wait until after his senior season to make such a claim and, even then, he's got some decent competition. Khalid El-Amin may very well have been a better high school guard--again, let's see that senior season. And if it's a college or a pro career that you're really talking about, well, have you heard of Kevin McHale? Still, he rates ahead of Broman in 2013 in our book.
The High School Girls
Finally, the toughest call of all, the high school girls. I have Tyseanna Johnson and Carlie Wagner rated #1 in their respective classes, but Johnson wasn't even nominated for player of the year. That was kind of a fluke. PoY nominations come as a result of being Player of the Day sometime in November through March, and Tyseanna never was. Whenever she had a big day, and make no mistake about it, she had her big days, but when she did, somebody else happened to have a bigger one. A fluke, yes, but you can't be PoY if not nominated.
I would note here, however, that my buddy Kevin Anderson picked Tyseanna as his girls PoY. 2 years ago, Dahlman was PoY when the mighty 2013s were sophomores. Last year he picked Nia Coffey. This year Tyseanna because, as he said, her offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) was better. About 10 percent better, to be more precise. And that, according to Kevin's analysis, is because Tyseanna finishes at the rim better. She makes lay-ups. The others missed too many.
So shame on me. It's between Carlie and Nia and Rebekah.
Well, Rebekah Dahlman got outplayed 2 nights running in the state tournament--by Leah Szabla and then of course by Carlie Wagner. If I had a vote for Ms. Basketball, which I view as a career award, I would probably go with Dahlman, the 1st and only girl to score 5,000 points in a career. But PoY is a seasonal award, and she got outplayed in the 2 biggest games of the year.
Meanwhile, my #1 rating is really meant to address her post-high school potential. I know many of you think I'm crazy, but I think she'll have the best college career of the 3 2013s--Coffey, Dahlman and Johnson. But that, too, is not the same thing as a Player of the Year award which means, who had the best season in 2013.
Nia Coffey? Well, she never got outplayed. And Carlie Wagner never got outplayed, but--c'mon, seriously--40 missed shots plus turnovers against Washburn? And it wasn't just missing shots, it was decision-making on the floor. I caught a lot of grief for putting her (and Dahlman) on my 2nd all-state tournament team behind Maddie Guebert and Leah Szabla. Maybe I overreacted. But I was there, I saw that game, and somebody had to say something.
And, yet, I could imagine Hopkins winning a state title even without Nia Coffey. (Watch 'em do just that next year, for that matter.) I cannot imagine New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva beating anybody without Carlie Wagner. So there you have it, PoY among the high school girls--Carlie Wagner.
Minnesota Hoops Player of the Year
So my finalists are Seimone Augustus, Rachel Banham, Clayton Vette, Tyus Jones and Carlie Wagner. OK, my finalists are really Tyus Jones and Carlie Wagner. Carlie Wagner and Tyus Jones.
Well, once again, I could imagine Apple Valley winning the state title--or, at a minimum, being competitive with state tournament caliber teams--without Tyus Jones. I saw Apple Valley beat Hopkins without him. I cannot imagine NRHEG beating anybody--certainly not a state tournament caliber team--without Carlie Wagner.
So Minnesota Hoops Player of the Year is Carlie Wagner.