Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
South Medford senior E.J. Singler was named the Class 6A boys basketball player of the year Wednesday, making it the second time in three seasons that a Panther player has earned that distinction.
Singler's older brother Kyle shared player-of-the-year honors with Lake Oswego's Kevin Love in 2007. E.J. and Kyle Singler are the only brothers in Oregon history to earn the top basketball honor at the state's highest classification.
"That's pretty cool," said E.J. Singler of making state history. "That's definitely something we can talk about later down the road. I know our family is extremely proud of that."
"It's definitely an honor to be chosen player of the year," he added. "It's not just about me, though. A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work throughout the years to help make me a better player, and I definitely want to thank them."
E.J. Singler was also named the 2008-09 Gatorade Oregon Boys Basketball Player of the Year two weeks ago after helping lead South Medford (21-8) to a share of its eighth straight conference title and a sixth-place finish at the state tournament.
The 6-foot-6 standout, who has signed to play at the University of Oregon, averaged 21.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, five assists and 1.4 blocks per game in his senior season. All were team-high marks, along with his 18 charges taken.
"I think it is well-deserved and earned," said South Medford coach Dennis Murphy of Singler's nod from the state's 6A coaches. "He truly improved his own skills dramatically between his junior and senior years, and he took his team and put them on his shoulders and carried us to sixth in the state."
Singler nearly managed a triple-double in South's tournament-opening loss to Lincoln with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and led the 6A event at McArthur Court in Eugene in scoring (26.3) and rebounding (11.7) and tied for first with 12 assists overall.
In the state playoffs, Singler ratcheted up his game to the tune of 27.4 points and 12.4 rebounds per game.
"I know we coined the phrase 'iron horse' when talking about E.J.," said Murphy, "but he truly just goes and goes and goes and never seems to get tired. He has a tremendous competitive spirit, and he works extremely hard and is very coachable."
Joining Singler on the all-state first team were Mike Moser of Grant, Johnel Gray of West Linn, Taylor Braun of Newberg and Garrett Jackson of Westview. Jesuit's Gene Potter was named coach of the year.
North Medford senior guard Jordan Ellis was an honorable mention selection, and the Southwest Conference earned a third honor with an honorable mention nod going to South Eugene junior Spencer Coleman.
Ellis averaged 17.6 points, 4.3 assists and five rebounds for the Black Tornado and capped his four-year run as North Medford's all-time leading scorer with 1,498 points.
"He's a huge part of what we did for four years," said North Medford coach Scott Plankenhorn of Ellis. "He's in the top 10 in every single category in career stats (at North). Points, assists, steals, rebounds ... he did it all for us."
E.J. Singler wrapped up his career at South Medford third in scoring with 1,521 points, trailing only Kyle Singler (2,207) and Michael Harthun (1,955), and owns the school's single-season record for blocked shots (64 in 2007-08).
Singler learned after the season that he had been playing on a torn meniscus in his left knee, an injury suffered Oct. 17 in a football game at South Eugene. He sat out the next week's game against Roseburg but returned to help lead the Panthers to the state quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Southridge.
"It's probably better that I didn't know I had it," he said of the torn meniscus, adding that he didn't think it affected him much during the basketball season. "That's probably more of a mental thing than a physical thing."
Singler underwent surgery to repair the damage on March 31 and said the knee rehabilitation is going well. His next concern involves finishing up high school and getting started on his new path at Oregon.
"I want to get up there as soon as possible and get acquainted with the guys again and have a couple workouts with them before I have to go back and work out with them in June," he said.
All-State Boys Basketball
Name, School Yr. Ht. Pos.
E.J. Singler, South Medford Sr. 6-6 P
Mike Moser, Grant Sr. 6-8 F
Johnel Gray, West Linn Sr. 6-3 G
Taylor Braun, Newberg Sr. 6-6 F
Garrett Jackson, Westview Jr. 6-6 F
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — E.J. Singler, South Medford.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Gene Potter, Jesuit.
Kyle Wiltjer, Jesuit So. 6-9 P
Diego Herrejon, Centennial Sr. 6-1 G
Max Jacobsen, Lake Oswego Sr. 6-7 P
Jordan Carter, McKay Jr. 6-1 G
Stephen Holt, Jesuit Jr. 6-3 G
Michael Holton Jr., Sunset Sr. 6-1 G
Trevor Ritchie, Wilson, 6-3, Jr.; J.D. Esters, Lincoln, 6-0, Jr.; Rei Jensen, Lincoln, 6-8, Sr.; Nate Carr, Central Catholic, 6-5, Sr.; Cody Hickey, Canby, 6-5, Sr.; Spencer Coleman, South Eugene, 6-5, Jr.; Kevin Sullivan, Southridge, 6-4, Sr.; Andrew Earnest, Clackamas, 5-10, Sr.; Jordan Ellis, North Medford, 6-1, Sr.; Drew Johnson, Barlow, 6-0, Sr.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail email@example.com