Thursday, January 27, 2011
Ohio Mr. Basketball-The Process
As the Ohio high school basketball regular season begins to wind down, and thoughts start to turn towards the upcoming state tournament, a new debate is starting to sweep the Buckeye State. Ohio’s Mr. Basketball Award is coveted by many of the state’s top players, but only the most outstanding player of the season will be selected for this prestigious honor.
As I read the banter on a couple of Ohio’s most popular websites, much of which includes resume dropping, prognostication, and sometime over the top justification for a person’s favorite player, I can’t help but wonder about the actual process and the criteria used in the selection process. As an example, if you listen to the average fan, a player’s “body of work” over the course of his/her entire high school career, scoring average, high school championships, post-season honors, team’s state-wide ranking, and AAU success all factor into the decision making.
Because I was curious, I did a little research on the matter and discovered that there are actually two Mr. Basketball Awards granted each year for both Boys and Girls. Both the Associated Press (AP) and Ohio High School Coaches Associations (OHSCA) annually select a player for the top award. It’s interesting to note, only on ten occasions over the history of the awards have the two organizations disagreed, and over the past three years the same player has received both awards. Unlike last year when the award was a no brainer (remember Jared Sullinger), this year the award is still up for grabs, and a handful of players have a legitimate shot. Therefore, there may be a good chance the award maybe split between 2 players.
Also, I took a look at the OHSCA’s website and found they have several formal criteria for their award. The procedures for the selection of Mr. Basketball include: (1) that the player must be nominated by a District Director or Officer, (2) Nominees can be a senior or underclassman, (3) Each player's stats will be discussed among the District Directors and Officers and (4) District Director will vote to determine the winner. A list of the State’s District Directors can be found on the OHSCA website at: http://ohiobkcoaches.com/directory/district-directors-2009-2010/.
For this piece, I contacted Rusty Miller, Ohio AP Sports Editor, to obtain some insight into the AP’s Mr. Basketball selection process. According to Miller, who has been involved in the Mr. Football, Mr. Basketball and Ms. Basketball selection process for over 25 years, the decision is made by a panel of chairpersons from each of the AP’s seven districts around the state. Those districts include: Central, Southwest, Southeast, Eastern, Northwest, Northeast Inland and Northeast Lake.
According to Miller, each District Chairperson will first meet with their local members-a panel of various media types-within their own district to take an initial look at things like stats, records, strength of schedule, etc, and will then compile an initial list of the top players in their districts, then decide on whom they will recommend from their district for several statewide awards including All-District, All-Ohio and Mr. and Ms. Basketball. That's right, the AP votes on several of the top awards in the state. Depending on the quality of the competition in their respective districts, some districts may recomend, one, two or even three players for the various awards. Of the course the larger districts, like the Southwest, Central and Northeast, may have more elite playersen; therefore, they may recommend more players for the various awards. After they have made their decisions, each district chairperson will send those recommendations to Miller who is based here in Columbus.
Miller will collect the recomendations from the seven districts, and sometime in March, usually the Wednesday before the Boys and Girls State Tournaments, Miller and the 7 district chairpersons will meet to hash out the final All-District, All-Ohio and Mr. and Ms. Basketball Award winners. The decision will be based on points (i.e 5 points for first place, 3 pomits for second and 1 point for thrid). Miller then compiles the final list and sends them out to the AP membership, made up of TV, newspapers and radio outlets, for distribution.
Because there are so many questions, rumors and myths surrounding the criteria for the award, I put the questions to Miller. “There are no criteria; we try to select the best player in the state,” offered Miller. “We try to recognize the top kids and just pick the best,” continued Miller. As I continued to probe Miller, he agreed that the ultimate decision can be somewhat subjective between each of the district chairpersons, and the criterion each member relies on is not well defined; however, Miller feels comfortable with their past decisions and he believes the ultimate decision should be “clear to everyone.”
In addition, Miller acknowledged that some chairpersons might be more influenced by the scouting services and websites, where as another member may not pay any attention to them at all. When asked if a player’s “body of work” over their high school career may affect the decision, he agreed that it might, depending on the player’s particular situation. With respect to a player’s stats, that may play a factor as well, it just depends. I also asked about the “Ohio State” factor. Miller agreed that a player who is being recruited and/or signs with Ohio State has a good chance at the award, as does any player who will be attending a big time program. Bottom line, there is some weight given to the size of the colleg program a player will be attending. According to Miller, “in some years when Ohio State is playing well and they are recruiting a kid, he must be pretty good.” Finally, Miller, who has cast votes for the Heisman Trophy for years, contends that “a kid will sink or swim based on what he has done.”
Ok, what a lot of you really want to know is who the front runners are for this year’s Mr. Basketball Award. If you listen to guys like Kurt Stubbs or Prep Spotlight’s John Stovall, or even the many armchair quarterbacks and barbershop experts who are convinced they already know the results, the next Ohio Mr. Basketball will be one of the following players: (listed alphabetically) Trey Burke (Northland), Treavon Jackson (Westerville South), Cole Krizancic (Mentor),Trey Lewis (Garfield Heights), Brian Sullivan (Upper Arlington), Stevie Taylor (Gahanna Lincoln), Aaron Thomas (Withrow), Travis Trice (Huber Heights Wayne) or Aaron White (Strongsville). As a note, as you can tell, the above list only includes the names of upperclassmen. In reality, an underclassman could very well get the nod. For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit, I think the actual list of probable award winners is 4-5 deep. I will not disclose my list of five, but I just have that feeling one of the five players will get the award.
The debate over which player is most deserving of the award will be left to others, and of course I don’t purport to I know who is going to win this award, and the eventual winner may not be represented on the above list, but I hope this piece helps shed some light on the process. Whoever the fortunate player happens to be, he will join a long list of elite players from the Buckeye State. Good luck to all!