Evan almighty: Warren's French repeats as 1st team All-Ohio honoree
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.”
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.”
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.