CHARLESTON - George Washington coach Rick Greene had every reason to be concerned about maintaining the recent success of his program prior to the start of the 2013-14 boys basketball season.
After all, the Patriots lost two-time All-State guard Luke Eddy to graduation, and returned more than a handful of players who had little more than experience as reserves on their resume. That was before 6-foot-3 guard Jon Elmore decided to return to the Mountain State from North Carolina.
Elmore, who left South Charleston High School following his sophomore season to attend and play basketball at Christ School in Arden, N.C., returned to Charleston in the early fall of 2013. In order to avoid having to sit out 365 days before playing as per Secondary School Activities Commission rules, Elmore enrolled at GW.
Photo courtesy of Melissa Riley
Lewis County’s John Riley is a first-team selection on the Class AAA all-state squad. Riley, a 6-foot-4 senior, led the Minutemen to a sectional title this season, averaging 24.8 points and 13.4 rebounds.
Greene, GW, basketball fans statewide and the West Virginia Sports Writers Association could not have been more impressed that he did. Elmore averaged 31.5 points per game and set a George Washington single-season school record for points with 815. He led GW's surprising run to a 19-7 record and a quarterfinal appearance in the Class AAA state tournament, where he scored 40 points in a loss to eventual state champion Huntington.
As a result, Elmore was named captain of the Class AAA All-State boys basketball team by the WVSWA.
"I don't think many people realized Jon's ability to know exactly what we need at any given time in order to win a ballgame," Greene said of Elmore's ability to elevate the level of play of his teammates.
"Jon just knows how to put everybody in position to do what they do best to help us win," Greene said. "He also knows what we need. If he needs to hit the boards harder, he does it. If he needs to hit a shot to change momentum, he does it."
The All-State team itself marks a departure from many All-State lists in recent history. For the first time since 1996 the Class AAA champion did not land a player on the first team. Huntington 6-5 senior center Arick Nicks was a member of the second team, with 6-foot senior Nick Tubbs and 5-7 sophomore Tavian Dunn-Martin named to the third team.
The Highlanders beat Hurricane 55-54 in the Class AAA state tournament championship game last week, with Nicks sinking the winning free throw with 2.5 seconds remaining in the game.
Nicks averaged 16.2 points per game and nearly a dozen rebounds.
Hurricane also did not land a player on the first team, making it the first time
since 1976 that neither team in the title game had an All-State player. Redskins
6-5 senior center Henry Sorsaia was also a second-team pick. Sorsaia finished
the season with an 18.3 scoring average and also hauled in an average of 10.6 rebounds.
Fairmont Senior beat Robert C. Byrd in the 1996 title game without a player being named to the All-State team. In its last year of existence, Wheeling High School beat Charleston for the 1976 title, and neither team placed a player on the first team.
A segment of teams that did have a strong impact on the makeup of the All-State list was those from the Eastern Panhandle. Washington, which entered the state tournament with an unbeaten record and the tournament's top seed, the Patriots fell to Huntington in the semifinals, but 6-foot senior guard Dominique Newman made the list after he averaged 21 points per game.
Hedgesville 6-3 senior guard C.J. Burks was also named to the team. He scored 20 points per game and was the linchpin of an Eagles team that reached the state tournament semifinals before it fell to Hurricane in a triple-overtime classic.
Finally, Musselman 6-4 senior forward Trevon Wesco might be the most unlikely first-team selection, though he certainly proved his worthiness in leading the Applemen to a 16-6 record. The starting quarterback for the Musselman football team, Wesco tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the middle of football season. He managed to return in time for basketball, and averaged 22.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.
The most notable college prospect to earn first-team honors was Greenbrier East guard Rondale Watson. A Wake Forest commitment, Watson finished his prep career with a 22.7 points per game scoring average.
The team was completed by Lewis County 6-4 center John Riley, Preston 6-4 guard Jimmy Galusky and 6-foot South Charleston guard Brandon Knapper.
Riley was a considerable chore for opponents to defend during the Minutemen's 17-6 campaign. He averaged 24.8 points and 13.4 boards per game and led the team to the Region 2, Section 1 championship.
Galusky averaged 25.6 points - the second-most in Class AAA behind Elmore - along with 9.8 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.1 assists. The Knights finished 11-14, but challenged Parkersburg South in a Region 1 co-final before falling 70-66 in Parkersburg.
Knapper went from being somewhat of a local buzz player to a statewide star on the rise with a 40-point performance in a win over Woodrow Wilson in early February. He led the Black Eagles, who finished 24-2, with a scoring average of 18.9 points per game.
Woodrow Wilson senior guard Donte Nabors was chosen as the captain of the second team, while South Charleston junior forward A.D. Cunningham was named third-team captain. Nabors averaged 17.2 points per game, with Cunningham averaging 15.5.