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Phoenix's Young selected player of the year

At every turn, it seems, Alex Young experiences another basketball highlight.

The Phoenix High junior guard has been chosen the Class 4A boys player of the year, an honor he learned of Sunday even though the full team, which is voted on by coaches, hasn't been released.

Young led the Pirates to the state championship 21/2 weeks ago and was joined in the postseason award-winners' circle by teammate Tyler Dungnannon, a junior guard who made the all-state second team.

"It was a big shock to me," said the 6-foot-1 Young. "There are a lot of great players in the state. To be recognized as the best for the season is a big honor. But it's also a team award. Without the other nine guys and our coaches, I wouldn't have been player of the year."

Season-ending awards usually signal precisely that — the end of the season. But Young is just getting started.

Last week during spring break, he tried out for and made an elite, 17-under travel team sponsored by Nike. He'll play for ICP (Inner City Players) Portland from now into August, competing all over the country against the nation's top players in his age group.

The team is in tournaments next week in Virginia, the following weekend in Seattle and two weekends after that in Dallas.

"It's the start of my new basketball season," said Young. "I'll be playing against the best players in the country and comparing my game to theirs. I'm just gonna go out and play more basketball."

The blueprint for Young's big junior campaign was drawn up about this time last year.

After Phoenix placed fifth in the state in 2010 and Young made the all-state second team, he and coach Glenn Johannes mapped out goals for the coming year.

"He wasn't satisfied with those kind of accomplishments as a team and a player," said Johannes.

Chief among the objectives were for Young to add muscle to his relatively slight frame and to improve his scoring (14.5), rebounding (6.0) and assist (3.0) averages.

He added about 15 pounds since last year and raised his averages to 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

The team goals were to at least get back to the state semifinals, and of course, that mission was accomplished.

Phoenix defeated Cottage Grove, 59-44, for the title, capping a 23-6 season. Young had 15 points, four rebounds and six assists. He made 4 of 5 3-pointers.

"He took those goals to heart and ran with them," said Johannes. "He worked hard in the offseason, and during the season he pushed his teammates and his teammates pushed back. The whole group took on the challenge to make each other better, and they did so."

Young, in fact, cited his maturation as a leader as the area in which he's grown the most.

Often, coaches won't dwell on individual statistics and would prefer their players don't.

But Johannes is a realist, and he had no trouble putting target numbers in front of Young. The goals were 18 points, eight rebounds, eight assists.

"Alex isn't stat crazy in the sense that that's what drives him," said Johannes. "But I know as a coach we have to have that kind of output from him every night in order for us to be successful."

Young didn't give the numbers too much thought.

"In my mind, I'm just thinking about going out and playing as hard as I can every night," he said. "I'm not worried about stats. I'm trying to get the W's; rack those up and worry about the stats at the end of the day."

The rest of the all-state first team, said Johannes, was Jordan Schriber of Tillamook, Gavin Kauffman of Sweet Home, Tanner Omlid of Central and Jake Lucero of North Bend.

Dungannon averaged 14.9 points and 5.2 rebounds a game in making the second team. He was joined by Daniel Mathis of Skyline Conference champion Mazama. Mathis was the league's player of the year.

In Class 3A all-state voting announced earlier, Illinois Valley senior Roger Hults was a second-team choice, and Cascade Christian junior Eric Morse was on the third team.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com