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