Superlative (su·per·la·tive): of the highest quality or degree.
In sharing the story differently, we didn’t want to do the same old all-state teams that you see every year. Many deserving players are on those lists, but for us, we wanted to just something a little bit more unique. So, we reached out to coaches for some feedback, but also made some decisions on our own. We came up with these lists.
Presenting the 2022-23, Nebraska boys basketball “superlative” players and coaches.
Team of the Year: Bellevue West
Coach of the Year: Joel Hueser, Papillion-La Vista South
Player of the Year: Josiah Dotzler, Sr., Bellevue West
Offensive Player of the Year: Alec Noonan, Sr., Elkhorn South
Defensive Player of the Year: Caleb Benning, Jr., Omaha Westside
Newcomer of the Year: Coriahnn Gallatin, Fr., Fremont
Most Improved Team: Kevin Stubblefield, Jr., Omaha Westside (Captain); Bangot Dak, Sr., Lincoln Southeast; A’mare Bynum, Soph., Omaha Bryan; Chuck Love, Soph. Lincoln Southwest; Derek Rollins, Soph., Millard North.
Why?: Yes, I chickened out and put together an entire team for the most improved category for only Class A. There were just too many players that made a significant jump in production from 2021-22 to 2022-23. Stubblefield went from the ninth man in the rotation at Westside to leading them scoring and rebounding, that is why he was named the captain of that team. In my mind the Team of the Year (Bellevue West) was easy along with the Player of the Year (Dotzler). Alec Noonan received the most feedback from coaches for the Offensive Player of the Year as well as Caleb Benning (DPOY). At times throughout the season Benning guarded a point guard and a post player. He was the “defensive stopper” for the Warriors.
Team of the Year: Norris
Coach of the Year: Nick Thompson, Elkhorn
Player of the Year: Connor Millikan, Sr., Platteview
Offensive Player of the Year: Jake Brack, Sr., Skutt Catholic
Defensive Player of the Year: Trey Bird, Sr., Bennington
Newcomer of the Year: Nate Kelley, Fr., Scottsbluff
Most Improved Player: Ethan Yungtum, Sr., Elkhorn
Why?: Norris was ‘a year ahead’ making the state tournament. Their young core won seven of their last nine games and six of their top nine players are freshman or sophomores. No surprise with Connor Millikan winning the Player of the Year, he’s clearly deserving of both the Offensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year award. Jake Brack winning the OPOY is a way for me to find a spot for the state champion’s leading scorer and rebounder. Trey Bird received the most feedback from coaches for the Defensive Player of the Year. Nick Thompson winning COY was due to the Antlers going from not rated in the preseason coaches poll to the state tournament and winning 16-of-17 to end the season after a five-game skid. Scottsbluff’s Nate Kelley was the starting point guard as a freshman on a state tournament team. Ethan Yungtum wins most improved due to coaches feedback.
Team of the Year: Ashland-Greenwood
Coach of the Year: Jacob Mohs, Ashland-Greenwood
Player of the Year: Brooks Kissinger, Sr., Ashland-Greenwood
Offensive Player of the Year: Hayden Frank, Sr., Malcolm
Defensive Player of the Year: Dane Jacobsen, Jr., Ashland-Greenwood
Newcomer of the Year: Sawyer Smith, Fr., Ogallala
Most Improved Player: Quientan McCafferty, Jr., Omaha Concordia
Why?: Ashland-Greenwood defensively was remarkable all season. Clearly deserving of the Team of the Year. Same can be said for COY Jacob Mohs who lost the schools best player in its history (Cale Jacobsen) and seemed to not miss a beat. Kissinger received the most coach feedback for POY as did Dane Jacobsen DPOY. Newcomer of the Year, Sawyer Smith averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.4 steals for a state semifinalist team. OPOY Hayden Frank was among the leaders in C-1 with 23.6 points per game. Frank and McCafferty were the coaches favorites as OPOY and most improved.
Team of the Year: Freeman
Coach of the Year: Derric Werner, Elkhorn Valley
Player of the Year: Carter Ruse, Sr., Freeman
Offensive Player of the Year: Carter Siems, Sr., Tri County
Defensive Player of the Year: Taylan Vetrovsky, Sr., Freeman
Newcomer of the Year: Jack Poppe, Doniphan-Trumbull
Most Improved Player: Nolan Timm, Sr., Yutan
Why?: Freeman’s domination versus the class was evident, so was the Falcons leading scorer Carter Ruse who is named the Player of the Year. Elkhorn Valley made the state tournament for the first time in the school’s history which gives Werner the nod at COY. Vetrovsky is a terrific athlete and garnered the most coaches feedback for DPOY. Siems is the OPOY due to playing a tougher schedule than most in the class while averaging over 18 points per game. In three games versus Freeman he scored 21, 20 and 14. Poppe averaged 13.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game for the 24-3 Cardinals. Timm had an increase of 12.6 points per game from 4.7 as a junior to 17.3 as a senior.
Team of the Year: Johnson-Brock
Coach of the Year: Kolby Hamilton, Maywood-Hayes Center
Player of the Year: Brecken Erickson, Jr., North Platte St. Patrick’s
Offensive Player of the Year: Hayden Kramer, Sr., Maywood-Hayes Center
Defensive Player of the Year: Jackson Kerchal, Jr., Dundy County Stratton
Newcomer of the Year: Ethan Latta, Fr., Dundy County Stratton
Most Improved Player: Jett Farwell, Soph., Pawnee City
Why?: Johnson-Brock exceeded outside expectations. For example, in the final regular season coaches poll the Eagles were rated seventh. Hamilton is named COY after leading the Wolves to their first state tournament appearance in school history. Erickson was the most dominant player in the class averaging close to a double-double. Kramer averaged 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds as the OPOY.
Team of the Year: Santee
Coach of the Year: Nate Godwin, Parkview Christian
Player of the Year: Viktar Kachalouski, Sr., Parkview Christian
Offensive Player of the Year: Austyn Saul, Sr., Santee
Defensive Player of the Year: Kale Gustafson, Jr., Osceola
Newcomer of the Year: Gage Hedstrom, Fr., St. Mary’s
Most Improved Player: Maurice Reide, Sr., Parkview Christian
Why?: Santee’s first state tournament birth in school history gives them the nod at team of the year. Kachalouski led the Patriots in scoring, assists, steals and blocked shots. Saul was the state’s leader in scoring (27.3 ppg) and had the most coaches feedback as OPOY. Gustafson was second in the POY coaches feedback and his 16.1 rebounds and ability to change shots around the rim gives him the DPOY. Reide jumped from 12.3 points as a junior to 19.6 his senior season.