JIM LAHDE,Morning Sun (Mount Pleasant)
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Matt Costello became the center of attention — physically and figuratively — immediately after hitting the hardwood for the 2011-12 season.
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound Bay City Western High School senior center quickly became a key player for the Warriors, and a formidable foe for opponents. Now the first-team All-State selection, who won the Mr. Basketball award earlier this week, has been named The Associated Press Class A Player of the Year.
Costello’s physical size meant he was probably the tallest player on the floor, but it was his game that separated him from the pack. Bay City Western head coach Chris Watz could use his nimble and agile four-year varsity player as a shooting guard if necessary, or play him at power forward or center.
In short, Costello was a match-up nightmare and has been exactly that since he earned a starting job halfway through his sophomore season.
The future Michigan State Spartan saved his best for last in 2011-12 though as he led the Warriors to a second straight district title, despite having four new starters around him. For the season Costello, who led the Warriors to an 18-6 record in the ultra-competitive Saginaw Valley League, averaged 25 points per game. He also tore down 18 rebounds while blocking four shots and dishing out four assists. He scored 49 points in a double overtime win over Flint Southwestern and had 22 double-doubles and two triple-doubles.
Costello also completely rewrote the Bay City Western record books as he finished as the all-time leading scorer with 1,500-plus points and over 1,000 career boards.
“He’s one of those guys who understands the angles and how to use his body and how to play the game,” Watz said. “He brought an intensity with him and he always worked extremely hard. I’ve seen a number of 6-10 guys but none of them could dominate a game like Matt could. He was the hardest worker whether it was in the weight room or at 6 a.m. shooting baskets. Rarely is he satisfied because he’s driven to succeed.”
Costello said he was asked to find the open player and crash the boards more this season, which led to great overall numbers.
“I changed the way I played this season,” said Costello. “With all the attention I was getting, I had to pass more and then go to the boards. It was a lot of fun. The biggest thing for me was that I got to play with my twin brother John. Just the opportunity to be able to do that was a blessing.”
Joining Costello is on this year’s Class A team along with 14 other players from around the state, all of whom had great campaigns in 2011-12.
Senior guard Travontis Richardson of Saginaw played a key role for the highly-ranked Trojans this year as poured in 15 points per game while averaging five boards and five assists. Saginaw played Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the quarterfinal round this week.
Junior Bishop Robinson of Kalamazoo Loy Norrix also garnered first-team All-State honors as he led the Knights to the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference crown. He averaged 24 points per game and 12.2 rebounds while adding in three assists per game.
Flint Carmen-Ainsworth’s Denzel Watts also had a fine junior season as he averaged 20 points per game for the Cavaliers. Watts, who already drawing looks from the likes of Baylor and Kansas State, also averaged six rebounds and six assists per game.
Detroit Pershing’s Kahlil Felder has led the Doughboys into the Class A quarterfinals this week as he’s averaged 19 points, seven assists, five steals and four rebounds at point guard.
Detroit King’s Malik Albert closed his career for the Crusaders by averaging 23 points, four steals, five rebounds all while shooting 59 percent from the field.
Junior Jonathan Williams of Southfield Lathrup shown bright this season too as he scored 27 points per contest while averaging six assists and five rebounds for the Chargers.
Romulus junior Wes Clark also had a great season. The point guard, who’s getting looks from USC, averaged 13 points, four rebounds and three assists per game for the Eagles.
Temperence Bedford’s 6-foot-7 junior Jackson Lamb came on in 2011-12 as he averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Kicking Mules. The Division I prospect already holds the school record for career points with one year to go.
Warren De La Salle Collegiate senior Connor Tava averaged 20 points, four assists and 11 rebounds for the Pilots this season en route to first-team All-State honors.
Lansing Eastern senior Fredrick Edmond averaged a double-double for the Quakers as he scored 25 points per while tearing down 14 rebounds. He also averaged three steals.
Down the road at Okemos Chris Harrison-Docks also had a fine senior season as he averaged 22 points for the Chieftains. The Butler recruit added in five assists and three steals.
Troy’s James Young is another player to keep an eye on next year as he averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds this past year for the Colts.
Coach of the Year honors in Class A are shared by Saginaw first-year coach Julien Taylor and Rochester’s fourth-year head coach John Pleasant. Taylor has the Trojans in the state quarterfinals this week while Pleasant led his team to 19 straight wins after opening the season 0-1.
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