Salado senior Dane Hankamer often gets recognized for his talent, but the Eagles’ head coach applauds his work ethic.
After guiding state-ranked Salado to a 30-4 overall record, including a 20-game win streak and an undefeated run to the District 22-2A championship, Hankamer was the lone player to land on the 2013-14 KDHpressbox.com All-Area First Team from a school outside of Class 5A.
Kenny Mann, however, is not surprised to see Hankamer work his way into the conversation with players from much larger schools.
“He is athletic and talented, but people don’t always realize there is a lot of hard work that goes into it, too,” Salado’s head coach said. “Natural ability can only take you so far. You’ve got to work hard and do something with it, and he is one of those people who have really done that.”
Averaging a team-high 18 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Hankamer joins a quartet of District 8-5A players on the first team.
Of the group, Copperas Cove junior Rashard Odomes was the only player to earn an individual accolade on the all-district list, being named offensive player of the year after leading the Bulldawgs to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Odomes delivered a stellar season, averaging 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, but despite all he accomplished, Copperas Cove head coach Billy White Jr. believes the best is yet to come.
“I just feel like four or five years down the road, people are going to be saying, ‘Wow, I watched that kid in high school,’” White said. “He is a special player, and I honestly feel he is going to have a great senior season.”
Harker Heights post Celneque Bobbitt joins Odomes as the only other junior to make the list after helping the Knights remain ranked all season for the first time in program history.
With Bobbitt anchoring the defense, Harker Heights went 27-5 and won the district championship before No. 2 DeSoto ended the Knights’ season in the regional quarterfinals.
The remainder of the list is comprised of seniors, including Killeen’s Brian Long, who capped off his high school career with a third trip to the postseason, nearly upsetting then-No. 3 DeSoto in the bi-district round after trailing by just two points with 68 seconds remaining in regulation.
During his time on varsity, Long scored more than 1,000 points, including a standout senior season, when he led the Kangaroos offensively.
Rounding out the team is Shoemaker guard Shane Johnson, who was instrumental during the Grey Wolves’ rebuilding season.
In addition to replacing their head coach, the Grey Wolves lost three starters and only returned four players from their 2012-13 squad that went 26-9.
Despite the turnover, Shoemaker went 21-8 overall en route to a second-place finish in the district standings, and first-year head coach Emund Prichett believes Johnson, who averaged 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game, was a major reason why the Grey Wolves were able to remain competitive.
“He’s a kid, who has been with the program for four years, and he added something to his game every single year,” Prichett said. “People had doubts about him because of his size, and then he dropped 30 pounds last spring, kept it off, and it transformed his whole game.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com