Warning: knee jerk reaction time.
The 2019 edition of the Indiana All-Stars were announced on Wednesday and for the second straight season, the Fort Wayne area essentially laid another goose egg.
Just like last year, nobody will represent Indiana in their meetings with Kentucky. That comes in the same 12 months that new game director Mike Broughton emphasized that he wanted the game to carry heavy meaning after a couple of years of players passing on the experience after being selected to the team. Just in 2017, Fort Wayne’s Jaylen Butz (North Side) and Malik Williams (Snider) passed on representing Indiana in the series.
Now, in 2019, just East Noble’s Ali Ali is recognized with the squad, though as an honorary member. He is listed as injured and unable to play in the game. As is New Castle’s Mason Gillis, who earns an honorary spot after missing the entire 2018-19 season. Ali recently had surgery for an injury that occurred before his senior season but did not require surgery. After the wear and tear of East Noble’s NE8 championship season however, it was required so he won’t be suiting up any time soon.
“It’s a real honor to be selected as an Indiana All-Star. Being an Indiana All-Star was a personal goal I had for myself coming into this season,” Ali told Outside the Huddle. “Even though I won’t be able to play, I’m truly blessed to still be a part of the team and represent the state of Indiana and East Noble.”
Ali is second Indiana All-Star in East Noble history and trust me when I say this column is no way to demean Ali’s selection as he was certainly one of the best players in Northern Indiana.
Last season, four players represented the area as Indiana Junior All-Stars, including Ali. The two other players eligible from that group this year were Wayne’s Craig Young and Westview’s Elijah Hales, although their absences were surprising.
What misses the mark to me are the names Frankie Davidson and Sydney Curry. Neither of them participated in a recent “Top 60” workout. Begs the question, were either of them even considered? North of the Indianapolis area sees just three players named, including Ali’s honorary title. The others, Culver’s Ethan Brittain-Watts and Valparaiso’s Brandon Newman, seem like no brainers. But no player who played in the second biggest city in the state will represent that state this year.
So what did Broughton miss in the Fort Wayne area that nobody else did? Davidson was a revelation all season and entered state finals Saturday as the only player in any game that day to be averaging 20 or more points per game. That success, which came against a wide range of opponents in higher classes was clearly ignored. Ignored also was Davidson’s state title win. In fact, just one Indiana All-Star this season, Carmel’s John Michael Mulloy, won a state title. That is mind boggling to me, but maybe that is why I don’t get to be on the selection committee.
If postseason success isn’t an issue, then players like Hales or Richmond’s Lucas Kroft (a Fort Wayne native) should have drawn respect for their individual games as well. And is postseason success is a factor, then why wasn’t one of the stat’s statistical best (Davidson) on today’s Indiana All-Star list. Again, he was the only state champion to average more than 20 points per game. Did that get lost at 10 a.m.?
It all just comes up short to me. But as long as half of the team is from the same conference, it is all good right?
I’m not interested in an every guy gets a trophy scenario. The Indiana All-Stars is a big deal, or it should be a big deal and spots should be earned. Not selecting Davidson just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Call it sour grapes, call it a knee jerk reaction. Fort Wayne basketball lacked some forms of star power this season and we all knew it before the season started. That doesn’t mean there was no star power and that doesn’t mean that an omission this year doesn’t taint the city and area’s desire to care about Indiana All-Stars going forward.
In 2018, the city’s teams and players didn’t live up to the hype of preseason expectations and produced no players that the state ultimately deemed as worthy of all-star status. That isn’t true this year, except the last part. The state…the selectors didn’t deem Davidson or Curry worthy.
That is ludicrous to me. And I know I am far from alone.
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