Evan French may just be the best boys basketball player in the history of Warren High School.
Entering last March, no Warriors player had ever been named first team All-Ohio. A year later, French has earned the honor twice, as the Warren senior was listed on the Division II All-Ohio first team Monday by The Associated Press for the second season in a row.
"It means a lot to me to bring it back to my community," French said. "It shows how far hard work will take you in sports and in life."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Warren’s Evan French (left) was named Division II first team All-Ohio by The Associated Press Monday.
French averaged 22 points per game for the royal blue and white cagers this winter. He helped lead Warren to a combined 47-6 record over the past two years, including the program's first ever district and regional championships last season.
Warren head coach Blane Maddox believes French's performance on the court will have a long lasting impact on area players.
"Evan has helped put Southeast Ohio basketball players on the map," Maddox said. "A lot of players will get recognized now because of what he was able to do."
Associated Press All-Ohio
FIRST TEAM: Dakota Mathias, Elida, 6-foot-5, senior, 27.7 points per game; Luke Kennard, Franklin, 6-6, jr., 41.0; Evan French, Vincent Warren, 6-4, sr., 23.5; Tervell Beck, Cleve. Cent. Cath., 6-7, soph., 18.5; Brady Arnold, Millersburg West Holmes, 5-10, sr., 26.2; J.J. Kukura, Alliance, 6-3, sr., 27.8; Ronnie Williams, Cols. Brookhaven, 6-3, sr., 17.8; V.J. King, Akron SVSM, 6-7, soph., 17.0; Jalen Hudson, Akron SVSM, 6-5, sr., 17.5; Jeff Thomas, Norwalk, 6-5, sr., 18.8.
Players of the year: Dakota Mathias, Elida; Luke Kennard, Franklin.
Coaches of the year: Drew Williams, Whitehall-Yearling; Dave Bargar, Chargin Falls; Shawn O'Connell, Dayton Ponitz Career Technology Center; Matt Saunders, Medina Buckeye; Joe Balogh, Mansfield Ontario.
SECOND TEAM: Matt Hughes, Cols. Watterson, 6-5, sr., 13.0; RaChaun Martin, Dayton Thurgood Marshall, 5-10, sr., 12.0; William Orr, Johnstown-Monroe, 6-1, sr., 17.8; Adam Sterling, Steubenville, 6-4, sr., 16.3; Dillon Young, Circleville Logan Elm, 6-0, sr., 20.4; Zavier Powers, Mentor Lake Cath., 6-2, sr., 20.5; Chris Harris, Tol. Scott, 6-0, sr., 22.1; Amos "AJ" Harris, Dayton Dunbar, 5-9, jr., 15.2; Isaiah Jones, Cin. Woodward, 6-0, jr., 21.0.
THIRD TEAM: Jeff Swetland, Marengo Highland, 6-2, jr., 19.7; Sam Nolan, Cols. Bexley, 6-1, sr., 18.4; Brennan Czuchran, Rayland Buckeye Local, 6-3, sr., 21.3; Ibi Watson, Athens, 6-4, soph., 17.0; Justin Robinson, Mentor Lake Cath., 6-1, jr., 18.7; Connor McLaughlin, Ashtabula Edgewood, 6-1, sr., 17.7; Andrew Francesconi, Tallmadge, 6-4, jr., 21.2; O'Shay Vinson, Akron Kenmore, 6-3, sr., 20.7; Nic Williams, Sandusky Perkins, 6-3, sr., 22.8; Taren Sullivan, Lima Bath, 6-6, sr., 20.9; Ahmad Frost, Cin. Wyoming, 6-0, sr., 21.0.
Blake Blair, Dover; Hayden Cunningham, East Liverpool; Parker Evans, New Concord John Glenn; Jared Lyder, Lisbon Beaver; Brad Karn, Parma Hts. Holy Name; Cameron Kuhn, Vermilion; John Cirillo, Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin; Joe Burrow, Athens; Conner Eckles, Washington C.H. Washington; Jared McCray, Minford; Anthony Christian, Akron Hoban; Jarret Vrabel, Canfield; Jacob Wolfe, Poland Seminary; Jordan Krych, Ravenna Southeast; Michael Peters, Cuyahoga Falls CVCA; Trey Guilliam, Defiance; Connor Bowen, Millbury Lake.
Brok Bennett, London; Reece Dupler, Hebron Lakewood; Dalton Laster, Cols. East; Joey Schmitz, Carroll Bloom-Carroll; Joe Thomas, Cols. Centennial;
Drew Rackley, New Concord John Glenn; Jordan Watson, Cambridge; Brandon Herring-Hill, Steubenville; Brady Byers, Gnadenhutten Indian Valley; Dylan Sterling, Uhrichsville Claymont; Jantsen Locke, Minerva; Chase Hambel, Philo;
Cristen Wilson, Cleve. John Hay; Antwon Lillard, Cleve. Central Cath.; David Chase, Jefferson Area; Eli Kalil, Ashtabula Edgewood; Lawrynce Johnson, Parma Hts. Holy Name; Gerrell Williams, Lorain Clearview;
Nick Corcoran, Chillicothe Unioto; Logan Thompson, Circleville Logan Elm; Tyler Slone, Wash. C.H. Washington; Will Giffin, Circleville; Jordan Barr, Lancaster Fairfield Union; Cedric Pettiford, Wash. C.H. Miami Trace; Brandon Rowe, Minford; Tyler King, Thornville Sheridan; Braden Riley, Marietta; Reece Patton, Vincent Warren; Michael Hall, Vincent Warren;
Kevin Daniels, Cin. Hughes; Frank Catrine, Middletown Fenwick; William Green, Dayton Dunbar; Chris Sloneker, Monroe; Andrew Goodpaster, Carlisle;
Ty-Shawn Dukes, Ravenna; Justin Blanks, Norton; Joshua Williams, Akron SVSM; Derik Lewis, Akron East; Christian Waite, Akron Hoban; Parrish Martin, Alliance; Jeff Miller, Medina Buckeye; Garrett Beck, Medina Buckeye; Joe Cunningham, Youngs. Mooney; Tre' Smith, Akron Buchtel;
Branden Austin, Tol. Rogers; Cameron Mack, Mansfield Ontario; Ridge Winand, Bellville Clear Fork; Tristan Kehres, Shelby; Ben Haraway, Norwalk; Thomas Martin, Bryan; Ryan Hoyng, Celina.
Warren advanced all the way to the "Final Four" last winter before bowing out to the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish in the state semifinal. The Irish themselves had a pair of players make first team All-Ohio in V.J. King and Jalen Hudson. Also listed on the D2 first team was Elida's Dakota Mathias, Franklin's Luke Kennard, Cleveland Central Catholic's Tervell Beck, West Holmes' Brady Arnold, Alliance's J.J. Kukura, Brookhaven's Ronnie Williams and Norwalk's Jeff Thomas. Mathias and Kennard were co-players of the year.
On being named among those players, French said "It's really special. I've played with a lot of the guys on that list and I know how talented those guys are."
French, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, became known as a deadly 3-point shooter during his sophomore year. By the end of his prep career he evolved into a more well-rounded offensive threat, using his strength to post up down low as well as beating defenders off the dribble on drives to the basket.
"He had to adjust," Maddox explained.
"That's what's so special. People knew him for three years and tried to take him away and they still couldn't stop him.
"Nobody worked harder than him. He's a special player. I'm just happy for him."
French, who signed to play collegiately at West Liberty before this season began, finished his high school career with 1,450 points, a Warren record, in just three full seasons on the varsity squad.
He developed a knack for getting into unstoppable rhythms during games. At times, it seemed like anything French put up would go in. He can make the game look easy.
"I've never seen a better shooter than him," Maddox said. "There's a lot of happy coaches now that he's moving on to college."
French's teammates Reece Patton and Michael Hall were both honorable mention All-Ohio picks. Patton, a senior, and Hall, a junior, both averaged double figures per game in scoring this season and helped take pressure off of French.
"I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for them," French said.
Maddox added "Those guys kind of let (French) take the driver's seat.
"Just an unselfish group."
French could no doubt light up the scoreboard, but he was more than just a scorer - he was a winner. Since French's freshman year, the Warren program notched 86 victories, including the aforementioned postseason success. Maddox will miss coaching him and the fans will certainly miss watching him.
"He'll probably be the best player Warren's had for a long time," Maddox said.