While boys basketball teams around Aurora played exceptionally well as a whole in the 2014-15 season, the best of the best talent suited up for the Centennial League’s top two programs.
Players from league champion and eventual Class 5A state champion Overland and league runner-up and semifinalist Eaglecrest combined to form the top fivesome of 2014-15 Aurora Sentinel All-City Boys Basketball Team, which is selected by the Sentinel in conjunction with balloting of the city’s 11 coaches.
A starting group that would make any prep coach salivate with its deadly size-speed combination is made up of two of the driving forces of Overland’s state championship in senior guard Austin Conway and junior big man De’Ron Davis, along with the Eaglecrest trio of senior forward Blend Avdili and guard Elijah Ross and budding sophomore combo guard Colbey Ross.
All five players were chosen for The Show all-star game after fantastic seasons individually and in the team context.
Among Aurora coaches, all agreed that the 6-foot-9 inch Davis distinguished himself and deserved the Sentinel’s Player of the Year honors, with his play only further making coaches of Division I men’s basketball programs all over the country yearn to add him to their program.
While doing what he’d done the previous two years in making the right pass and not forcing things, Davis still led the Centennial League with 440 points for a career-best average of 16.3 points per contest to go with 11.3 rebounds. He also blocked 5.1 shots per game and provided the ultimate security blanket for the rest of Overland’s defenders.
Still considered one of the top handful of players in the country in the Class of 2016, Davis has a chance for a monster senior season as the Trailblazers aim for a second straight state championship.
Like Davis, Conway makes his second straight All-City first team appearance. Both were on the 2012-13 Sentinel All-City second team as well.
With the blossoming of junior Reggie Gibson at point guard, Conway had the ball in his hands less than in the past, but that’s the way coach Danny Fisher — the Sentinel‘s Coach of the Year after leading Overland to the school’s first state basketball championship in its 37-year history — liked it.
Though Conway, a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American Game, had some games where his shot didn’t fall, he sped the ball up the court at every occasion, played strong, savvy defense against the opposition’s top offensive threat and served as the team’s much-needed steadying force.
In the playoffs, Conway was at his best. The University of Wyoming signee scored in double figures in Overland’s final four playoff games, including a rim-attacking masterpiece on his way to 18 points in the championship game against ThunderRidge.
Eaglecrest’s hopes of winning a second state championship in three seasons for outstanding coach John Olander were dashed by ThunderRidge, but the Raptors featured as dangerous a trio of players as any around.
The versatile Avdili makes his second straight appearance on the All-City first team and was one of the most savvy frontcourt players around. The University of Colorado-Colorado Springs signee and All-Centennial League first teamer upped his production in both scoring and rebounding.
An improved outside shot helped tack on nearly three points to Avdili’s scoring average from the previous season, pushing him over 16 points per contest this season, which ranked second on the team. Often underestimated from the perimeter, Avdili shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range and made defenses pay for sagging off of him.
The 6-foot-5 senior also averaged 7.1 rebounds per contest and turned in six double-doubles.
Elijah Ross, who will play with Avdili and a slew of other talented Colorado prep players at UCCS, pushed the envelope at every occasion in the backcourt for the Raptors, leading them in assists (4.6) and steals (1.9) along with 12.3 points per game.
An electric quarterback on Eaglecrest’s football team, Ross did the same for the basketball team with his leadership and vision as a penetrator and passer. The 5-10 guard also helped spearhead the Raptors’ aggressive trapping defense and averaged nearly 2 steals per ballgame.
Bolstered by a year of physical maturity and improved savvy, Colbey Ross attacked the basket with a variety of angles and complimented it with a reliable outside shot that made him one of the most difficult players around to defend.
As a freshman, Ross averaged 5.0 points per game, but the 6-footer rocketed up over 17 points per contest as a sophomore, in part because he earned his way to the free throw line often. He scored a game-high 26 points in Eaglecrest’s 10-point loss to ThunderRidge in the 5A semifinals.
Ross also chipped in 3.8 assists per game, second-best behind his brother.
With so much talent in so many places, every single spot on the All-City team was difficult to decide.
The second team includes Gibson, whose assertiveness offensively and ability to get to the basket just about at will proved invaluable to Overland’s championship run. The emerging junior made the All-Centennial League first team after finishing only behind Davis in scoring average and just in front of Conway for the team lead in assists.
The senior duo of guard Taylor Kallsen and forward Kip Boryla represent Regis Jesuit, which went undefeated for most of the season before eventually losing to Denver East in the Great 8. On a 23-3 Raiders team that was the very definition of balance, Kallsen got the ball in crunch time and came through often, including a buzzer-beater to down Denver East in the regular season, while Boryla used his guile in the paint very effectively.
A pair of juniors who did battle in EMAC play — Rangeview’s Tyrei Randall and Aurora Central’s Ladarius Thomas — round out the second team with eyes on moving up next season.
Randall impressed coaches with his smoothness on both ends of the floor, with his length and quickness big assets defense and his ability to shoot from the perimeter or slash to the basket making him prone to bursts of offense, while Thomas stuffed the box score each time out with averages of 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.7 steals per game.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2014-15 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
Blend Avdili, sr., Eaglecrest; Austin Conway, sr., Overland; De’Ron Davis, jr., Overland; Colbey Ross, soph., Eaglecrest; Elijah Ross, sr., Eaglecrest
Player of Year: De’Ron Davis, Overland; Coach of Year: Danny Fisher, Overland
Kip Boryla, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Reggie Gibson, Overland, jr.; Taylor Kallsen, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Tyrei Randall, Rangeview, jr.; Ladarius Thomas, Aurora Central, jr.
Peter Anderson, Eaglecrest, sr.; Ronnie Barfield, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Elijah Blake, Rangeview, soph.; Jarred Burr, Grandview, sr.; Noah Butler, Vista PEAK, sr.; Cesar Carmona, Aurora West College Prep, sr.; Tony Caseria, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Elijah Coleman, Aurora Central, jr.; Jalen Davis, Rangeview, sr.; Dylan Holt, Vista PEAK, soph.; Daytone Jennings, Aurora Central, jr.; JT Johnson, Vista PEAK, sr.; Andrew Joiner, Grandview, sr.; Dalontae Kelly, Smoky Hill, sr.; Geoff Kelly, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Logan Longo, Grandview, sr.; Izaiah Lottie, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Jaizec Lottie, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Ahonsi Ohimai, Hinkley, sr.; EJ Reed, Rangeview, jr.; Elijah Sanford, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Bachir Sissoko, Gateway, sr.; Bryan Staerkel, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Tarren Storey-Way, Rangeview, sr.; Ryan Swan, Overland, sr.; David Thornton, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Kelsey Williams, Hinkley, sr.; Shae Wyatt, Smoky Hill, soph.; Isaiah Young, Vista PEAK, sr.