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Kory Deadrick of Esko is the Duluth News Tribune 2014 Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 25.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while leading the Eskomos to the Class AA state title. Clint Austin /

Esko’s Deadrick named News Tribune Player of the Year in boys basketball

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Esko’s Deadrick named News Tribune Player of the Year in boys basketball
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Before he morphed into the silky smooth scorer that led Esko to its first boys basketball state championship, Kory Deadrick was a study in clumsiness.


His growth spurt had growing pains — and some unintentional comedy thanks to fast-sprouting feet. Deadrick wore a size 12 shoe when he was 11 years old. By the time he was 13, he was wearing a size 16.

“He was almost like a fawn trying to catch up to those big feet,” his father, Shane Deadrick, said. “In fact, on more than one occasion, I caught myself laughing at how he was trying to get up the floor.”

Now, the joke’s on everybody else.

The younger Deadrick’s coordination eventually matched his supersized frame, which stands 6-foot-7 today. The result is a wildly athletic big man who glides up and down the court while methodically picking apart defenses, whether it’s slicing to the basket or firing 3-pointers.

Deadrick is the News Tribune’s 2014 All-Area Player of the Year after leading Esko to the Class AA state title last month. Along the way, he averaged 25.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game to cement his status atop the pantheon of all-time Eskomos.

The two-time Polar League MVP departs as the program’s most prolific scorer and rebounder with 1,928 points and 907 rebounds.

“There’s no doubt he’s the best player I’ve ever coached, and I’ve had some really good ones,” Esko coach Mike Devney said.

Deadrick had plenty of potential as a youngster, but a rapidly growing body threatened to derail that potential. Suddenly, Deadrick was a 6-3 freshman towering over his classmates.

“He had some awkward times in ninth grade,” longtime friend and teammate Marc Peterson said. “But 10th, 11th grade, he grew into his body.”

He certainly did.

Deadrick became a varsity starter for the first time as a sophomore and promptly helped the Eskomos reach the Section 7AA title game. A year later, he made a big-time leap and, along with Peterson and Casey Staniger, carried Esko to a fourth-place finish at the state tournament.

He was, however, hungry for more. An arduous summer — including lots of travel to play with an elite AAU team out of Hopkins — ensued.

“When he stepped on the court this year, his confidence level was extremely high,” said dad Shane, who also serves as one of Devney’s assistants. “He truly felt in all the games we played this year that he was the best player on the floor, and not in an arrogant way but in a confident way.”

Deadrick hails from a sports-centric family. His parents, including mom Lynne, have extensive playing and coaching backgrounds, and sister Keely starred at Esko in both basketball and volleyball before opting to play the latter for her mother at Wisconsin-Superior.

Deadrick has committed to NCAA Division III St. Thomas, which surprised some who considered Deadrick at the very least a DII player. But a highly regarded business and finance program at St. Thomas, plus a likely chance to play right away for the Tommies, was too good to pass up.

“At the Division III level, they have a chance to play for a national title just about every year,” Deadrick said. “That was really big to me. Just like I did at Esko competing at the state level, I wanted to compete at the national level in college.”

At 175 pounds, Deadrick certainly has some bulking up in his future. Devney doesn’t foresee that being a problem.

“It’s like I told some of the college coaches that I talked to: He’ll do anything you ask him to do to get better, and that’s why I think he’s going to be a hell of a player at St. Thomas,” the coach said. “He’s not so good because he’s 6-7; he’s good because he’s a gym rat.”

A state champion, too.

Deadrick, Peterson and Staniger all started as sophomores when the groundwork was laid for this winter’s title run. The trio’s mantra all along was “no regrets.” They didn’t want to look back in five or 10 years and wish they had spent more time in the gym.

“Past seniors have said give it everything you’ve got because you only get one chance to play high school sports,” Deadrick explained. “Once it’s over, it’s over. We wanted to put in the time now so we could say we gave it our all. That’s what we did.”


2014 News Tribune All-Area Boys Basketball Team

News Tribune boys basketball Players of the Year

Year    Player            School

2014    Kory Deadrick        Esko

2013    Anders Broman        Lakeview Christian

2012    Anders Broman        Lakeview Christian

2011    Johnny Woodard        Duluth East

2010    Dyami Starks        Duluth East

2009    Steve Tecker        Northwestern

2008    Jay Cary            Hibbing

2007    D.J. Winfield        Mountain Iron-Buhl

2006    Cory Johnson        Duluth East

2005    Cory Johnson        Duluth East

2004    Matt Lien            Duluth Denfeld

2003    Eric Webb            Grand Rapids

2002    Eric Webb            Grand Rapids

2001    Rick Rickert        Duluth East

2000    Rick Rickert        Duluth East

1999    Rick Rickert        Duluth East

1998    Steve Battaglia        Cloquet

1997    Dusty Rychart        Grand Rapids

1996    Leland Swenson        AlBrook

1995    Josh Quigley        Duluth East

1994    Ryan Giehler        Bigfork

Louie St. George
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