CJ Rickels

Vinton-Shellsburg junior CJ Rickels drives toward the lane against Decorah.

Sports will always offer things in the ways of stories to follow. Center Point-Urbana’s thrilling triple overtime win to advance to the state tournament. Vinton-Shellsburg’s new starting point guard learning the ropes on the fly with a talented surrounding upperclassman team. A Benton team of high-fliers filled with football stars from a successful autumn.

It’s hard to pick a single player out of the beautiful fray of madness that surrounded area basketball. There were standouts on every squad. This is where we need your help.

We will take the opportunity to list out the accomplishments and their context to our readers. You, in turn, have your say. There is a new poll up on our website for you to vote on the area’s top boys’ basketball player of the season.

Of course, this can quickly turn into a popularity contest. That is, after all, the basis on which every public poll is built. To help mitigate that, we will try to be as unbiased as possible by listing stats and accomplishments that won’t give away the identity of each candidate until the end of this article. To vote your conscience, simply vote before you reach our spoiler section at the end. If you don’t plan on voting online at communitynewspapergroup/vintonnewspapers.com/sports, you are more than free to read on to the end with no breaks.

Player A:

While he didn’t lead his team in scoring, he was a true five-tool athlete. In a stacked conference, he still managed to score 10.4 points per game, good for 15th in the league. He also recorded a whopping 2.1 steals per game, fourth best in his conference. His 41.9 field goal percentage is also worth noting.

Player B:

He led his team in scoring with 9.7 points per game, good for ninth in the conference. Among the top 10 scorers in the conference, he took the fewest field goal attempts with just 163. The next on the list took 26 more shots than him. He also finished seventh in total rebounds, offensive rebounds and rebounds per game.

Player C:

Of the top five scorers in his conference, he attempted the second least three-pointers, just 46 all season. That makes his 14.4 points per game – good for second of all scorers - all the more impressive. His teammate actually edged him out by 0.3 percent in field goal percentage, but his was the highest (57.4) among all players with more than 123 shots on the season. He also finished with the most total rebounds (197) and rebounds per game (7.9) in the conference.

Player D:

Being part of a dynamic duo often means putting aside statistical achievements for the good of the team. For this half of his team’s duo, that wasn’t true. It wasn’t for his teammate either. This individual scored 12.9 points per game, good for fourth in the conference, while his teammate scored a fifth-best 12.5. The difference is that this player achieved a 43.9 percent shooting mark from the floor and led his team in assists (39) for the year.

Who is the area's boys' basketball player of the year?

You voted:

Before the reveal, please allow us to note that it was a tough decision to narrow down each team to a single player. Basketball is one of the ultimate team sports, and none of these players might not be as great as they are without the support of their teammates. Assists and points couldn’t be had without a key backdoor pass or someone else boxing out an opponent.

We would also encourage those of you interested in voting on this do so online before reading on.

With that said, here are our picks for the area player of the year.

Player A: Caleb Reel, Union

Reel may not have led his team in scoring, but his and brother Devin’s consistency in appearances helped get Union half of its win in the final seven games of its season. Reel wrapped up his senior year with a six-point, four-steal performance in his team’s 62-40 loss to South Hamilton in the substate play-in game.

Player B: Turner Schroeder, Benton

It's hard to stand out on a team with so much height to offer. Schroeder did just that for the Bobcats, capping off his senior year with an 18-point performance against rival Independence in the team’s regular-season finale, matching his point total from the previous game against Clear-Creek-Amana.

Player C: Kole Tupa, Center Point-Urbana

The senior stretch forward led his school to its first state tournament appearance in 24 years. That would be reason enough to vote for him. In the team’s opening-round loss to Ballard, he led all scorers with 19 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field while grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. This followed a gutsy performance in the substate finals in which he again led all scorers with 22 points and nabbing 16 rebounds in the triple overtime win.

Player D: C.J. Rickels, Vinton-Shellsburg

The lone junior on the list, Rickels nearly led an upset over Center Point-Urbana back on Feb. 7 when the Vikings came up just 5 points short. Rickels was the lone Vike to crack the first-team all-conference selection list this year, a feat he’ll look to accomplish once more as the team reloads for another year.