It was only logical for the prep sports staff of the Johnson City Press to make a Good decision with the All-Northeast Tennessee boys player of the year award.
Science Hill’s C.J. Good was selected for the honor after averaging a team-best 15 points per game, 3.9 assists per game and leading the area in 3-point percentage.
Improved footwork meant that Good drew the toughest defensive assignment many times, and he led the team with 2.5 steals per game. The 5-foot-11 junior wing also had the intangibles, working tirelessly without the ball on offense.
He became the second member of his family so honored as older sister, Johneshia, was named the girls’ player of the year in 2009.
It was a Science Hill sweep for the top honors as Ken Cutlip won his second coach of the year award, beating out a field which included Cloudland’s Brandon Carpenter and Unicoi County’s John English.
After the transfer of what was expected to be the Hilltoppers’ top two players in the offseason, all Cutlip did was lead his team to a 34-2 record and a berth in next week’s state championship tournament.
It wasn’t all about Science Hill, however, as Chase Arnold of Sullivan North led the area in both scoring and rebounding. The 6-5 junior post averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Golden Raiders.
Two other players from the Three Rivers Conference — Austin Hensley of Unicoi County and Chance Davis of Sullivan East — stood out as first-team selections.
Hensley had 15.6 ppg and was second in the area to Arnold with 10.8 rpg for the Blue Devils. Showing versatility, the 6-5 senior played a variety of spots, while dishing out 4.4 assists and making 2.6 steals per contest.
Davis averaged solid numbers of 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while knocking down 38 shots behind the 3-point arc. The 6-4 senior was unquestionably the Patriots leader as the season ended, scoring 17 points in a hard-fought sectional loss to Alcoa.
Dylan McClellan of Cloudland and Will Adams of Science Hill round out the first-team selections.
McClellan was a big scorer for the Highlanders all season, averaging 17.2 points per game. Cloudland’s most consistent player on offense, the 6-1 junior forward led the Highlanders’ to their second straight state tournament appearance and their fifth in the last seven years.
While his scoring numbers (9.9 ppg) aren’t as stout the others, Adams is by some accounts the most valuable player on the Hilltoppers’ team. The 5-10 junior point guard averaged team bests with 4.9 assists per game and 75.7 percent at the free-throw line. In addition, he ranked right behind Good with 2.4 steals per game.
The second team is led by Hampton’s Cody McClain, a 6-0 sophomore guard, who averaged 14.5 points per game, 3.6 assists per game and was third best in the area with 38.4 percent behind the 3-point line. He is joined by Justin Wandell, a 6-0 senior guard, who averaged 15.1 points and four assists per game for Elizabethton.
Trevor Shelton, who was Unicoi County’s leading scorer at 16.8 ppg and second on the team with 10.2 rpg, is also on the second team. So is David Casaday of Sullivan East who posted averages of 14.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Zach Howard, the Big 8 Conference Player of the Year, rounds out the second group, averaging 12.2 points per game and hitting 41.2 percent behind the 3-point line.
Others who were honored included University High’s super sophomore Marcus Taylor, chosen as Most Promising Underclassman, and Zac Potter of Cloudland, who broke Adams’ two-year stranglehold on the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Taylor, a 5-8 guard, ranked second only to Arnold in scoring at 17.8 points per game, while knocking down over 30 percent of his 3-point shots. He also came up with 2.1 steals per game on the defensive end.
No one was better at stealing the ball than Potter, a quick-handed guard for the Highlanders. The 5-10 junior had an area-best 3.7 steals per game, as well as easily leading the team in deflections. Potter stepped his game up when Cloudland needed it the most, grabbing eight steals in Monday night’s 64-51 sectional win over Onieda.