Tribune boys basketball player of the year: Aaron Fuller, Mesa - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Tribune boys basketball player of the year: Aaron Fuller, Mesa

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Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2008 12:32 am | Updated: 9:27 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Mesa High’s Aaron Fuller had a wealth of motivation heading into the 2007-08 basketball season.

See the print version of the All-Tribune prep sports section

A few nibbles from colleges his junior year didn’t pan out so Fuller was bent on having a stellar season to convince schools who were fence-sitting. He also wanted to get the Jackrabbits back on top in the 5A East Valley Region, which would mean supplanting three-time defending state champ Mesa Mountain View.

And the capper to a big season would be advancing to state and going further than the Jackrabbits did in 2006-07.

Fuller’s play helped accomplish much of that, but the Jackrabbits’ early exit from state was the only downside to a season in which he was selected the Tribune’s player of the year for 2007-08.

The 6-foot-7 senior forward averaged 23.7 points per game and 11 rebounds per contest. In January, he set a school record for points in a game by hitting for 46 against Mesa Westwood. Mesa won the East Valley Region title and beat Mountain View both times in region play.

“He had a lot of things he wanted to take care of,” Mesa coach Shane Burcar said. “The best way he did that was to let his basketball skills do the talking.”

Two weeks ago, Fuller found out his basketball career will continue at the collegiate level when he gave a verbal commitment to Iowa. He will sign with the Hawkeyes a month from today.

“Iowa’s excited,” Burcar said. “I know he’s excited about going there. He’ll be an outstanding player for them.”

That fact still doesn’t erase the only downer to Fuller’s season.

Playing in the East Valley Region tournament championship game against Mountain View, he and Toros standout Brendon Lavender collided in mid-air in the fourth period as Fuller tried to block Lavender’s attempt at a driving layup.

Fuller took the brunt of Lavender’s elbow to the mouth. Two days later, Fuller learned he’d suffered a broken jaw. He was unable to play in the Jackrabbits’ first-round game at state at Jackrabbit Gym against Chandler Basha.

Mesa lost, 50-38. Fuller’s final play as a prep player will be remembered as an all-out effort in what was, in truth, a meaningless game.

“It was hard ending the season with him not being able to play,” Burcar said. “But he accomplished a lot with the pressure on. It’s a pleasure to coach a skilled player, an unselfish player and a team player like Aaron.”

Looking Back: Memorable moments from the 2007-08 season

Thunder secure first championship: Phoenix Desert Vista has been a final-four fixture most of this decade in boys basketball but this season it broke through with its first state title. Using a 15-0 run to open the second period, coach Doug Harris’ squad derailed Phoenix St. Mary’s’ bid at a state title as the No. 10 seed with a 63-50 triumph. Post Michael Proctor and guards Josh Lowery and Marcus Lever led the way offensively for the Thunder. It was the second straight year St. Mary’s took home the runner-up trophy.

At .500 and a title... almost: Tempe Marcos de Niza eliminated a couple of its Pima Region brethren and then knocked off tournament favorite Phoenix North in the semifinals to set up its chance at winning the 5A-II title with a .500 record. A 17-2 lead early in the first quarter gave that dream some credence, but Tucson Ironwood Ridge relentlessly pecked away and posted a 61-51 victory. Marcos led the game by 3 heading into the final period.

A different 500: Scottsdale Christian boys basketball coach Bob Fredericks earned the 500th victory of his coaching career in January when the Eagles knocked off North Pointe in a 2A Central Region game. The Eagles fell a couple games short of the 2A state title in February with a loss to eventual champ Phoenix Northwest Christian.

Class 5A All-Tribune first team

Player School Yr. Pos. Comment

Aaron Fuller Mesa Sr. P E.V. Region player of the year, headed to Iowa

Taylor Rohde Pinnacle Sr. F 29 ppg, 12 rpg, Arizona State-bound

Brendon Lavender Mtn. View Sr. G 23 ppg, 6 assists, next stop UA

Michael Proctor Desert Vista Sr. F Scorer, rebounder for state champs

Ryan Evans Hamilton Sr. G Fiesta co-player of the year, 18 ppg

5A Player of the Year: Aaron Fuller, Mesa

Coach of the Year: Doug Harris, Desert Vista (D.V. won 5A-I title and was most consistent team)

Class 5A All-Tribune second team

Player School Yr. Pos. Comment

Matt Carlino Highland Fr. G 16 ppg, 7 rpg, 5 apg in debut season

Kyle Smith Desert Mtn. Sr. F Tough inside for Wolves, 17 pts, 10 rebs

Tyler Miller Basha Jr. F Averaged 16 ppg, played several spots

Nick Witherill Highland Sr. G 16 ppg for Washington State signee

Deonte Roberts Red Mountain Sr. F Outstanding rebounder, 15 ppg, 12 rpg

5A honorable mention:

CHANDLER: Eli Godinez, Sr., G. CORONA DEL SOL: Mike McCoy, Sr., G. DESERT MOUNTAIN: Kyle Smith, Sr., F. DESERT RIDGE: Nate Bohy, Sr., G. DESERT VISTA: Josh Lowery, Jr., G; Marcus Lever, Sr., G. DOBSON: Melvin Douglas IV, Sr., F. GILBERT: Daniel Carter, Sr., G; Elliott Clark, Sr., G. HAMILTON: John Jackson, Sr., F. HORIZON: Nick Streff, Sr., F; Eric McGaffin, Sr., G. MARCOS DE NIZA: Daniel Johnson, Sr., F; Harrison Evens, Sr., G. MESA: Donte Medder, Sr., G. MOUNTAIN POINTE: Jahii Carson, Fr., G. MOUNTAIN VIEW: Eric Hunt, Jr., F. PINNACLE: Nuno Muandumba, Jr., G. RED MOUNTAIN: Keawe Enos, Sr., G. ST. MARY’S: Byron Fulton, Jr., F; Blake Davis, Jr., F; James Hollins, Sr., G. SKYLINE: J.C. Hall, Sr., G. WESTWOOD: Kenneth O’Bannon, Sr., G.

Class 4A-1A All-Tribune first team

Player School Yr. Pos. Comment

Nate Van Weelden Valley Christian Sr. G Mr. Everything, 19.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.3 spg

Matt Rhodes Saguaro Sr. F Solid season as team leader, 17 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg

Charles Ward Arcadia Sr. G One of East Valley’s elite scorers at 24.1 ppg

Brandon Garrett Paradise Valley Sr. F Inside presence was first team all Desert Sky

Taylor Kufrovich Salt River Sr. G 19.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg at just 6-feet tall

4A-1A Player of the Year: Nate Van Weelden, Valley Christian

Coach of the Year: Mark MacGowan, Paradise Valley (Led Trojans to 4A-I semis as No. 10 seed)

Class 4A-1A All-Tribune second team

Player School Yr. Pos. Comment

Dominick Ruth Saguaro Sr. G Good decision-maker with dangerous jump shot

Steven Morin Saguaro Jr. G Filled in nicely for Nick Witherill at SG

Nick Gleisner Seton Sr. F Led Sentinels in points, rebounds and blocks

Adrian Green McClintock Sr. F Averaged 12.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 blocks

Erik Battle Tempe Sr. G Averaged 21.8 ppg, season-high of 40

Class 4A-1A honorable mention:

ARCADIA: David Carroll, Jr., F. CACTUS SHADOWS: Ryan Aholt, Sr., F. CHAPARRAL: Mike Cummings, Sr., F; Gus Gabel, Jr., F. CORONADO: Adam Schumacher, Sr. PG. HIGLEY: Taylor Jackson, Sr., G. MCCLINTOCK: Elgin Caldwell, Sr., G; Devonte Thornburg, Jr., F. NOTRE DAME: Nate Dudley, Jr., F. PARADISE VALLEY: Chris McFaul, Sr., G; Naheer Mirza, So., G. SAGUARO: Tyler Tompkins, Sr., F. SALT RIVER: Anthony Dean, Sr., G. SCOTTSDALE CHRISTIAN: Bo Barnes, Jr., G. SETON CATHOLIC: Corey Vaughan, Sr., G; Thomas Harty So., F. TEMPE: Bernis Berber, Sr., F. VALLEY CHRISTIAN: Bryant Avent, Sr., F.

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