Knights tandem named to all-star game
Andre Adams and Isaiah Bellamy did not accomplish everything they set out to do as Westview seniors.
However, they will get to one more chance to demonstrate that they are among the premier players in the state.
The Westview seniors will play for the Division I-II South team in the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association all-star game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave.
Adams and Bellamy helped lead the Knights to a 22-7 record last season, which ended with a 56-38 loss at Chandler Hamilton in the second round of the Division I state tournament.
Adams averaged 12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game last season.
“Andre is someone, because of his size and talent, who demanded a lot of athleticism to defend,” Westview coach Brendan McEvoy said. “They used to help out on him a lot. That allowed the other players more [offensive] opportunities. The opposition had to account for Andre.
“On the defensive end, he is also someone teams had to account for. He took away easy baskets inside. Andre is very talented playing in the 2-3 zone. He could cover the high and low post because he is so agile and long. He creates all kinds of problems.”
Bellamy led the Knights in scoring, at 14.5 points per game, and assists, dishing out 2.1 per contest. He also grabbed 5.8 rebounds per outing, tying Adams for the team lead.
“Isaiah can handle the ball very well at 6-5, 205,” McEvoy said. “He worked hard and developed a great jump shot. Offensively, he is so good off the dribble. He ball-fakes very well and when he gets by you, he is gone; guys can’t keep up with him.
“Defensively, he moves his feet well,” McEvoy said. “He is long and is strong enough to defend guys in the post. He is athletic enough to come from the weak side to block shots.”
Being selected for the prestigious game was exciting, Adams said.
“It’s a really a big honor to be selected,” Adams said. “It’s pretty cool to be one of the players selected for this game. It’s all the best players in Arizona high school basketball.”
Gaining a measure of revenge against Casey Benson and Connor MacDougal of state champion Tempe Corona del Sol is also a motivating factor, Adams said.
Corona del Sol defeated Westview, 66-45, Nov. 27 in the Hoop Hall Tournament.
“I’m looking forward to showcasing my skills,” Adams said. “I want to have fun.”
Joining Adams and Bellamy on the star-studded team are Division I first-team all-state selections Jake Toolson of Gilbert Highland and Dorian Pickens of Phoenix Pinnacle, who nearly led the Pioneers past Corona in the state championship game, scoring a game-high 43 points in a 71-70 loss. Second-team all-state big man Payton Dastrup of Mesa Mountain View is also on the South roster.
Notables on the North squad include Benson, who has committed to the University of Oregon. He was selected the ABCA Division I Player of the Year. He also was selected to the Max Preps All-American fifth team after leading the Aztecs to their third-straight state title and a No. 7 national ranking.
Joining Benson and MacDougal for the North will be Phoenix Sunnyslope 6-foot-9 center Michael Humphrey, who has committed to Stanford, and Sam Jones of Gilbert Christian, a Division II all-state second-team nominee.
While the all-star game is exciting for Adams and Bellamy, it is a disappointment for McEvoy, who was originally scheduled to coach the South squad.
However, the Arizona Interscholastic Association does not allow the coaches of its member schools to participate in in-season all-star games. The AIA athletic year will not wrap up until Monday, when the Division I and II baseball and softball champions are crowned.
“I’m heartbroken I don’t get to coach in this game,” McEvoy said. “I really wanted to be on the sideline when Andre and Isaiah get their shot at Benson and MacDougal.
“I not only would have been able to coach Andre and Isaiah one more time, but also players like Jake Toolson, Dorian Pickens and Payton Dastrup. It would probably be the closest I would ever get to coaching college [-level] talent. That would have been a tremendously exciting opportunity.”
Mike Russo can be reached by email at mike firstname.lastname@example.org.