Kansas.com

All Varsity Kansas Stories

The 2017 Wichita Eagle All-State boys basketball team

Published March 17 at 4:25 p.m. | Last updated March 17 at 2:50 p.m.

MITCHELL BALLOCK

EUDORA SENIOR

Stats: One of the most prolific scorers in Kansas, Ballock finished his career as Eudora’s career scoring leader even with missing all but three games his junior season. Ballock was a matchup nightmare, as he had the ability to create off the dribble with the quickness to beat posts and the size (6-foot-5) to finish over guards. His scoring prowess was immediately recognized when he averaged 20 points and eight rebounds as a freshman to help lead Eudora to the Class 4A II championship in 2014. But Ballock pieced together his most complete season in his career as a senior, as he set career-high averages in points (25.4), rebounds (8.6), assists (4.4), steals (2.5), and blocks (1.9). He finished his career as Eudora’s all-time leader in points, blocks, and three-point makes, and third in rebounds, steals, and assists. He also holds the school record for most points scored in a game with 48. The only team he has lost to in the postseason the last three years has been Miege.

College: Creighton

Coach Kyle Deterding: “Mitchell had an unbelievable senior year and career, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story with him. Every team we played set their defense up to try to slow him down. He faced a junk defense almost every game and had at least two guys around him wherever he went on the floor. He is such a good ball-handler and passer and he did a fantastic job of making his teammates better. He was also our best defender and usually given the task of guarding the other team’s best player. All of that being said, Mitchell’s work ethic is what sets him apart. I have never seen anyone work as hard as he does. He is a model student in our school and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in our community who does not have great things to say about Mitchell. The best compliment I can give to him is to say when my three children grow up, I hope they conduct themselves as a person the way Mitchell has in our school and community.”

DARIEN JACKSON

BV NORTHWEST SENIOR

Stats: After winning Class 6A titles in 2013 and 2014, Blue Valley Northwest was restored to its championship level this season by Jackson. The 6-foot-3 guard exploded during his senior season, as he averaged 18.1 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. Since starting to play major minutes as a sophomore, Jackson has helped the Huskies increase their win total the last two seasons — from seven wins in 2015 to 19 last season and 22 this season. Jackson’s explosive first step allowed him to get to the rim almost at will and added a pull-up jumper to his array of weapons to make him even more lethal. His scoring prowess and length for a point guard made Jackson one of the top recruits in Kansas in the 2017 class, as he has orally committed to play for Tulsa. Along with senior JaMichael Morgan, an Oral Roberts signee, Jackson has helped make BV Northwest one of the most potent offenses in 6A, pushing 69 points per game. Jackson was at his best on the biggest stage, as he scored 26 points in BV Northwest’s 64-61 victory over Lawrence in the championship game and finished averaging 20.7 at the state tournament.

College: Tulsa

Coach Ed Fritz: “You just saw him blossom into a really good player as a senior and watching that has been really rewarding. He just kept working hard and kept getting better and better on the court, and this year he took on more of a leadership role for us. He’s just a hard-worker and has a lot of determination when he plays. That first half he played against Lawrence (in the Class 6A championship game) was as good of a half as I’ve ever had a player play in my career.”

MATT PILE

EISENHOWER SENIOR

Stats: Pile averaged a double-double the last three years, but became one of the most dominant two-way players in Kansas during his senior season. No team tried to guard the 6-foot-8 senior center without a double-team when he caught in the post and he formed a lethal pick-and-roll duo with junior point guard Dylan Vincent. But Pile’s dominance was felt most with his defense and rebounding. Teams would send an extra defender just to try to box Pile out, yet he still grabbed 40 percent of his team’s rebounds at 14.7. His presence in the paint alone was enough to change game plans, as Pile finished averaging 3.9 blocks and altered many more. In his senior season, Pile led Eisenhower (23-2) to the most wins in program history, its first two victories at the state tournament, and its first trophy at the state tournament (third place in Class 5A). Pile is Eisenhower’s career leader in points (1,322), rebounds (1,030), blocks (272), and games (92).

College: Nebraska-Omaha

Coach Steve Blue: “He’s been an incredible leader for us, both on and off the court. He does so much for us on the court and his numbers speak for themselves. To get over 1,300 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career is just unheard of these days. He’s been so unselfish in everything that he does and he’s been a coach’s dream. He’s a great basketball player, but he’s a better person and he’s just meant the world to our program. He’s such a high-character kid and he’s just one of the best young men I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach.”

JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL

MIEGE SOPHOMORE

Stats: Miege is loaded with talent and Robinson-Earl might be the most talented player in a program that just won its second straight Class 4A I championship. A 6-foot-8 sophomore, Robinson-Earl has the athleticism, scoring punch, and lanky frame that makes him an elite defender anywhere on the court. Those traits have made him one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, already receiving a scholarship offer from Bill Self. Robinson-Earl averaged 14.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.2 steals, as he logged 11 double-doubles this season. Miege was dominant at the state tournament, as it won its second straight title by an average margin of 22 points in three games, with Robinson-Earl playing a key role on both ends.

Coach Rick Zych: “Jeremiah is an extremely talented kid and not just for a sophomore, but for a player at any level of high school ball. His ability to score around the basket with a variety of different moves and his knack for rebounding are something you don’t see from a sophomore very often. He became a vocal leader for our team throughout the season and gave us energy when we needed a pick up. He is a tremendous kid off the court as well. He’s a great student and a very high-character person.”

CONNER VANCLEAVE

HOLCOMB SENIOR

Stats: VanCleave concluded his basketball career as a champion, as he won his second title in the last three years and registered a double-double in all but two games during Holcomb’s 24-1 season that ended with a Class 4A-II championship. VanCleave had plenty of talent to work with on the court, but maximized his abilities with an insatiable desire to grab every loose ball. VanCleave was Holcomb’s primary scorer, averaging 18.8 points, but the 6-foot-7 post was also a dominant force on the glass. After averaging 13.4 rebounds last season, VanCleave upped his average to 13.9 this season, grabbed 40 percent of his team’s total rebounds, and finished with at least 11 rebounds in every game. VanCleave also averaged 2.8 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.7 blocks. He finished his career with 1,411 points and 1,011 rebounds, and has signed to play baseball at Kansas next season.

College: Kansas (baseball)

Coach Chad Novack: “Conner is such a special kid because of his work ethic and his attitude on and off the court. He tries to out-work every kid during every single drill and he isn’t afraid to do the dirty work. That’s what makes him so good because he works so hard at the details. He’s also a just a great kid and he goes out of his way to make everyone of his teammates feel included and special.”

STEVE WALLACE

SHAWNEE HEIGHTS COACH

In his second season, Wallace guided Shawnee Heights to its second state tournament berth in the last 15 years and its first Class 5A championship since 2002. Shawnee Heights ended the season winning 17 of its last 18 games, as Wallace had the T-Birds playing their best in March. He helped guide Shawnee Heights to the title, despite an injury to star Poncho Freeman in the sub-state tournament and facing arguably the toughest road to a state championship. After beating Topeka Seaman for a third time in a sub-state championship game, Shawnee Heights defeated St. Thomas Aquinas in the quarterfinals and erased a 14-point, second-half deficit to Eisenhower to win in overtime in the semifinals to beat the top two contenders. Shawnee Heights won the championship game 66-49 over Kansas City Schlagle to cap off a 22-3 season. “We had different guys step up at different times this season,” Wallace said. “I know Trey (Brown) gets a lot of the publicity, but we had so many other guys step up through that run. That’s why I believed we always had a chance to win this thing because we had a great team and it wasn’t just a one- or two-man show. I’m so proud of this team and this season was surreal.”

Taylor Eldridge: 316-268-6270, @vkeldridge

Most popular stories