Coach: Junior like NBA’s Karl Malone
The Dominion Post
Morgantown High boys’ basketball coach Tom Yester makes a lot of comparisons when he talks about Nathan Adrian. Among the names that come up are Karl Malone, Kevin Jones, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.
They aren’t all direct comparisons. Some are based on what Adrian does, some are based on what he could become, and others are based on the type of player he is and the way he functions with others. Nonetheless, to be mentioned in the same breath with those names, a player has to be special — and Adrian is.
As a result, the Mohigans’ 6-foot-9 junior forward has been named The Dominion Post’s high school boys’ basketball Player of the Year.
“I’m happy about it,” Adrian said. “We worked hard this year and I felt like we had a pretty good year, so I’m glad it’s being shown.”
Joining Adrian on The Dominion Post’s all-area team are Preston’s Jimmy Galusky, University’s Deion Cunningham and Trinity’s Cody Triplett and Anthony Ghiardi.
Adrian started the season by verbally committing to play college basketball at WVU. He was the first Morgantown basketball player to receive a scholarship offer to play for the Mountaineers since Jay Jacobs got one in 1956.
He finished the season shooting 51 percent from the field and averaged a double-double with 19.44 points and 10.66 rebounds per game. Adrian also contributed 1.3 blocked shots a game and netted 32 3-pointers, while leading the Mohigans to an 18-7 record and an appearance in the Class AAA Region 1 final game.
Of all the things Adrian, a Class AAA all-state first-team selection and Two Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year, did for MHS, it was the rebounding that really tickled Yester.
“He’s a terrific rebounder,” Yester said. “You know, people don’t understand. That doesn’t sound like a big number, but look at Kevin Jones. On five all-American teams, and his numbers and Nathan’s numbers are almost identical.”
Despite all that success, Yester said Adrian has remained level-headed.
“He’s just a regular kid,” Yester said. “He has a pretty good sense of humor. He has a pretty laid back style. He’s not a real wild guy. And he’s not too hard to coach. He understands what needs to be done and I think he handles the pressure on him pretty well. He’s also a heck of a student. He’s a good kid, the whole nine yards.”
Adrian and Yester both credit his family for that.
“My mom and dad are a big part of my life, so they help me a lot in everything that I need,” Adrian said. “They’re just always there for me when I need ’em.”
Yester said Adrian’s inquisitive nature and willingness to ask questions has helped him develop a thorough knowledge of the game.
“Nathan knows all five positions,” he said. “Every play, he knows what everyone is supposed to do on that play. He’s such a bright kid.”
Adrian explained why.
“I feel like it’s my job as the leader to know everything that I can so if anybody needs help, they can come to me and I can tell ’em what they need to know,” he said.
Triplett meant as much to Trinity as Adrian meant to MHS and, like Adrian, he is an intelligent leader.
“Cody does a lot more for you than just the things that show up on statistics,” Trinity head coach Herman Pierson said. “He is a very intelligent player, sees the court well, makes other players around him better. He’s a little quieter, but he is somebody who leads by playing hard and gets those around him to do the same,” he added.
Triplett, a junior, led all area scorers with 19.5 points a game. He averaged nine rebounds per game, shot 79.2 percent from the free-throw line and poured in 42 3-pointers. He led the Warriors to a 17-8 record and a secondstraight state tournament appearance.
Pierson said Triplett added a new weapon to his arsenal this year that was invaluable to the team dynamic — the ability to post up and score when he was being guarded at the 3-point line.
The Class AAA firstteam all-state selection also passed the 1,000 career point mark this season.
“If he continues to play well, he would end up being our all-time leading scorer, which would be quite a feat,” Pierson said.
Scoring is something Galusky knows a lot about. The sophomore shooting guard for the Knights was consistently at or near the top of all scoring categories all season long.
“He was a great scorer for us,” Preston head coach Barry Sanders said. “He’s only a sophomore, and his shooting ability and everything else improved as the year went on. He’s a great penetrator and a good oneon-one player. Now he just needs to get stronger, and he will.”
Galusky finished the year as the area’s thirdleading scorer, with 17 points a game, the secondleading 3-point shooter, with 46 treys, and the top free-throw shooter, at 81.9 percent (68-of-83). He also contributed four rebounds per game, and received Class AAA allstate honorable mention status.
Cunningham earned his spot on the all-area team for his all-around play. He modeled the philosophy that defense leads to offense, as he used creative and athletic defense to net many UHS baskets.
“As much as he does things well on offense, Deion’s footwork and his strength made him a great onball defender,” UHS head coach Paul Ingle said. “He was really very dynamic in the open court, finished strong and was always a threat around the ball. Good anticipation off ball, stole a lot of passes in that way.”
Cunningham averaged a team-leading 11.8 points a game, while usually taking on the challenge of guarding the opponent’s best player. The junior guard also contributed four rebounds, 2.5 assists and two steals a game, and received Class AAA all-state honorable mention status.
Ghiardi, a Trinity junior, had a breakout season, and was named to the Class A all-state secondteam after averaging 13.1 points and eight rebounds a game, and shooting 71.6 percent from the freethrow line.
In his first season getting quality varsity playing minutes, Ghiardi developed into a dynamic scorer and rebounder for the Warriors. He turned in one of his bigger performances — 26 points and 10 rebounds at Notre Dame — when Triplett was being heavily guarded.
Pierson said he always knew Ghiardi was capable of being productive, but he exceeded expectations.
“The first two or three games he was a little shy about shooting the basketball and he and I talked a little bit,” Pierson said. “I basically just told him that when he’s open, ‘Don’t be afraid, I’m not going to yell at you for shooting an open shot. I might yell at you for not shooting an open shot.’ He felt a lot freer after that, and really took off.”

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion
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Cody Triplett, junior, Trinity Christian 19.5 ppg 9 rpg 42 3s 79.2 percent freethrow shooter Team record: 17-8

Bob Gay/The Dominion Post
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Jimmy Galusky, sophomore, Preston 17 ppg 4 rpg 46 3s 81.9 percent freethrow shooter Team record: 8-15

Bob Gay/The Dominion Post file
Deion Cunningham, junior, University 11.8 ppg 4 rpg 2.5 apg 2 steals per game Team record: 11-12

Bob Gay/The Dominion Post
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Anthony Ghiardi, junior, Trinity Christian 13.1 ppg 8 rpg 71.6 percent freethrow shooter Team record: 17-8

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post file photos
Nathan Adrian, junior, Morgantown 19.44 points per game 10.66 rebounds per game 1.3 blocked shots per game 32 3s Team record: 18-7