SoCal High School & Prep Report
Daily News' Player Of The Year--(April 7, 1998)
Leave it to the Daily News to always be late. Everyone else did their Players of the Year last week or earlier. But better late than never.
And this year's Daily News Player of the Year is. . . . Ruben Douglas (6'-5" Sr. PG/SG) from Bell-Jeff in Burbank, who has signed with Arizona. For the girls, no big surprise, it's Michelle Greco of Crescenta Valley, who has signed to play at UCLA next season.
The Daily News POY was selected by Vincent Bonsignore, and if you consider what Ruben went through this season, how far his team got, and statistically how well he did, maybe he does deserve the POY award, although a good case can be made for Dan Bobik, or maybe even Keron Wilkerson, or any of the other players who made it to the Daily News "All-Area" first team. The Daily News' "area" consists only of the San Fernando Valley, Simi and out to Westlake (but not as far as Thousand Oaks or Ventura), and over to La Crescenta and Glendale on the east. Not "All-City", but then it's a pretty large area with some pretty good teams and players.
Just so you know why Vincent picked Ruben, here's the article from the Daily News (note, the DN doesn't have a web site, so the only way to get this is to go buy a paper or read it here, and we're reproducing it here for "fair use"):
Ruben Douglas learned many lessons during his senior season at Bell-Jeff High.
One in particular is likely to help next year, when he's at the University of Arizona: Plans don't always unfold the way you expect.
"But just because of that, you can't give up," said Douglas, the Daily News boy's basketball Player of the Year.
Douglas maintained an optimisim this year despite a number of obstacles. That's what made Bell-Jeff's run to the Division IV semifinals and Douglas' fabulous overall performance this year so pleasing to Guards coach Eli Essa. At a time when Dopuglas could have coasted, he chose instead to lead.
"I doubt that any other player in the area, if they had to deal with the same things Ruben had to deal with this year, could have handled it any better," Essa said.
Douglas' trouble began right before the season, when four key temmates either moved out of the area or transferred to other schools.
A team many thought would contend for a Southern Section championship quickly became one that would struggle to reach the playoffs.
Douglas, along with forward Mike West, cam into the season hoping to win a division championship. He ended up carrying the inexperienced Guards-- just to keep them respectable.
Douglas accepted the challenge. After early struggles, Bell-Jeff rallied around its talented leader and reached the Division IV semifinals.
"He showed so much character and determination," Essa said. "Regardless of what happened, Ruben was determined to take a negative situation and make it a positive."
Douglas and West were the Guards' primary offensive threats all season. West, an outstanding rebounder, got most of his points inside the paid. Douglas scored in a variety of ways while showing off the many facets of his game.
In the open court, he is a strong finisher. But he can also pull up and hit the outside shot or put the ball on the floor and penetrate.
Douglas encountered almost every type of defense designed specifically to stop him. Yet he still averaged 34.6 points, including two games in which he scored 50 and three of 40 or more. Douglas also averaged nine rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Douglas, who could have jumped ship like some of his teammates, was rewarded for his commitment with the long post-season run. Bell-Jeff never had advanced farther than the quarterfinal.
"We didn't go as far as we wanted. But we wern't made because we felt we gave it everything we had," Douglas said. "I've been at Bell-Jeff four years, so it didn't make any sense for me to leave right before my senior year. The team was committed to one another, and we were committed to the coach. In the end, it worked out."
Congratulations again Ruben, from SoCalHoops on a great season, and on being named the Daily News' Player of the Year.
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