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Derek Taylor: GW senior Eddy legit contender for Evans Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When George Washington won the 2011 Class AAA state boys basketball championship, its first in 40 years, Patriots Coach Rick Greene took the opportunity to voice his displeasure on one specific item.

Oddly timed, perhaps. Greene nevertheless took a moment to say that he found it incredulous that GW center Tyquane Goard finished so low in voting for the Bill Evans Award. That honor goes to the state's player of the year, which was in 2011 bestowed upon Ripley guard Chase Fischer.

Goard, who went on to Ohio University and is now sitting out his transfer year before joining the roster at Marshall, didn't even finish second. Oak Hill's Kalif Wright did, and was followed in the ranks by Wheeling Park's Bubby Goodwin, South Charleston's Pierria Henry and Logan's Paul Herbert Williamson. Goard finished sixth.

For the record, Fischer is now a sophomore on the Wake Forest roster and Henry is third in the Atlantic 10 in steals as a starting guard at Charlotte. Wright is playing at Kilgore (Texas) Junior College, Goodwin is on the roster at West Liberty and Williamson played one year at West Virginia before transferring to Charleston. He left the Golden Eagles program shortly after joining it, and is now out of basketball.

Back to Greene, who has traditionally been saddled and blessed with a fierce loyalty to his top players. While Goard did not fare well in statewide voting, and neither did former Greene favorites Chris Long (some guy named Mayo won the Evans Award in Long's senior year) or Chase Smith (South Charleston's Aaron Dobson won in 2009), the veteran GW coach might have his most viable candidate for the Evans Award right now.

In truth, GW senior guard Luke Eddy's situation is more like that of Smith than of Goard or Long, although Eddy will follow in Long's footsteps when he joins the roster at Elon University next year. Smith averaged 24.2 points for GW in 2008-09, when the Patriots finished 17-9 and were eliminated in the Region 3 co-finals by Beckley.

That final record was a testament to both Greene's coaching acumen and the ability of Smith to shoulder the scoring burden for what was a young roster that was largely devoid of talent among its upperclassmen.

Sound familiar? It should. It's essentially the same hand that Eddy and his coach have been dealt in 2012-13.

"I would think that he'd have to be a player of the year candidate," Greene said earlier this year, immediately after South Charleston pounded GW at the Civic Center to the tune of a 60-40 final score.

"It might not look like it by the results, but don't write our final chapter just yet. There's a long way to go."

The difference between Smith and Eddy, however, is that Eddy has taken charge of far more elements than just filling the scoring column. Smith was a shooter, and a good one at that. Eddy - who can shoot from the outside quite well - has frequently made a living by getting to the free throw line by driving to the bucket. A 17-for-17 showing from the line in a win last week at then-No. 7 Princeton is evidence of that.

But Eddy's ball-hawking nature on defense and desire to attack the glass that puts him a notch above his predecessor. Eddy took a 26.5-points-per-game average into GW's Tuesday night home game against Riverside, but he is also GW's leader in rebounds  (7.5 per game), assists (5.1), steals (2.8) and blocks (1.1). The Patriots cracked the Associated Press Class AAA poll at No. 10 this week with a 9-3 record.

A few things outside Eddy's control will have an effect on his chances, as is usually the case for any player. After several years of some writers across the state voting almost exclusively for local players even in the most remote areas, the West Virginia Sports Writers Association's All-State basketball committee changed the selection method for the Evans Award last year. Instead of all voting members of the association having a say - as they do with the Kennedy Award for football - the Evans will now be chosen at the All-State meeting, like the Hunt and Huff awards in football.

This leaves the decision up to the 10 or so representatives that are in the meeting; usually those who have followed the sport across the state through the entire season.

It also, however, means that the Evans Award winner will not be announced until after the State Tournament. From 2004-2012, the winner was announced the Sunday before the tournament began.

One of the reasons that change was made nine years ago was that there was a sentiment among writers that the Award was too heavily influenced by how a single player did in the State Tournament itself, rather than being determined by a season-long body of work.

This is human nature, to be most impressed with what a person has seen most recently, and in person. George Washington's chances of reaching the State Tournament are still not great, even with the high level at which Eddy is playing.

Top-ranked South Charleston, No. 4 Greenbrier East, No. 9 Princeton, Beckley and Capital are all in Region 3 along with the Patriots, and only two of those clubs will make it to the Civic Center.

Given past trends it would have been easier for Eddy to win the award if the entire state was voting for the award, and it was selected before the start of the tournament.

That, however, counts out the ability of Eddy and Greene to get there. The win at Princeton was huge in terms of their chances. The Patriots and South Charleston are in the same section, and the loser of the sectional championship game will have to go on the road to face the winner of the opposite section with a tournament berth on the line.

If they can win in Princeton, it's not out of the realm of possibility to suggest that even though the Patriots lost by 20 to South Charleston earlier in the season, another loss to the Black Eagles would not doom them. GW would have more than a puncher's chance against Greenbrier East, if for no other reason than Greene's ability to get his teams to execute a game plan.

There's another seven weeks before the Evans Award will be decided, and unlike in 2012 when there were few true choices - Wheeling Park's Boo Lathon won the award - there are plenty of options in 2013. Martinsburg's Donte Grantham and Morgantown's Nathan Adrian immediately come to mind as contenders from teams who are most likely going to make it to Charleston. Magnolia's Mark Winters was an early favorite but his "It factor" has cooled considerably since the Blue Eagles have lost three of their last four games in Class A.

There is a long way to go and much to be settled, but to answer Greene's early season pondering, yes, Luke Eddy has most definitely made himself a candidate for the Evans Award. It has been a long time since a successful team was so dominated by one player.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT. 


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