What’s your definition of Mr. Basketball?
Is it the star senior who has won the most hardware — i.e. championship trophies — throughout his career?
Is it the star senior deemed to have the best collegiate basketball potential, based on where he’s heading next year?
Is it the star senior who amassed the most impressive individual statistics?
Surely the answer rests somewhere in between, inclusive of all of those qualities as well as many others.
The Maine Association of Basketball Coaches, which has sponsored the award since 1988 when Tim Scott of Ellsworth and Julie Bradstreet of Central Aroostook of Mars Hill were the inaugural recipients, defines it this way:
The Mister and Miss Basketball Award is presented each year to the senior player who has exhibited outstanding skills throughout his/her career, has made a significant impact on his/her team, has demonstrated respect for the game through leadership on and off the court, has epitomized the values of sportsmanship and has been a positive school and community citizen.
While Morgan Frame, who has led Waterville to three straight Class B state titles and a 66-game winning streak, is the favorite to be named Miss Basketball during tonight’s Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star banquet at Husson University in Bangor, the Mr. Basketball choice offers some intriguing and varied options.
A quick look at the field suggests Dirigo of Dixfield’s Thomas Knight should be the favorite, given that the 6-9 center drew the bulk of the recruiting interest among the state’s senior class before accepting a full scholarship from Notre Dame.
Knight has dominated the Western Maine Class C scene in recent years, setting a school record for points scored and leading the Cougars to the 2009 regional title and a berth in the state final, where they fell to Calais by a single point.
The two other finalists, Mick DiStasio of Cheverus of Portland and Gordon Fischer of Camden Hills of Rockport, also make compelling cases.
DiStasio led Cheverus to a stunning upset of heavily favored Bangor in the 2008 Class A state final, outscoring the Rams by himself in the second half while rallying the Stags from a 10-point deficit.
He averaged more than 20 points per game and was named co-player of the year in the Southern Maine Activities Association this winter while leading Cheverus to an unbeaten regular season before being ousted in the semifinals by Thornton Academy of Saco.
Fischer was a four-year starter at Camden Hills, leading the Windjammers to the 2007 Eastern B title, a berth in the 2008 regional final and the 2009 state championship — when he scored 16 second-half points to lead his team past Cape Elizabeth and cap off a 22-0 season.
The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year also adapted his game during his career, starting as a low-post presence but finishing as a 6-foot-6 forward equally adept as on the perimeter as on the inside.
DiStasio and Fischer both will play in the New England Small College Athletic Conference next season, DiStasio at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn., and Fischer at Colby College of Waterville.
All three finalists have been active in their schools beyond the basketball court, and all three have been high-quality ambassadors for their sport, both among their peers as well as with the next generation of Mr. Basketball candidates.
But as to who’s this year’s Mr. Basketball? That depends on your definition of the award.