Jameel Cosby played a quiet game of basketball for Kenton Ridge, being the efficient scorer his team needed, grabbing more rebounds than anyone noticed and leading in his own subtle way.
“I’m not very talkative,” he said.
Cosby was forced to talk Monday night at the Clark County Coaches All-County Basketball Banquet. A short speech is required of every player honored. And when Cosby was announced as 41st winner of the Dan Hoyt Mr. Basketball trophy he had to give a second speech.
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Cosby stood at the podium, wearing a colorful striped tie, holding the most important award of his young basketball career and nervously looking down and smiling. In his own soft-spoken way, he thanked his teammates, head coach Kris Spriggs and his family.
“He was a quiet leader,” Spriggs said. “He picked his times, but when he spoke the kids listened. I think that says volumes about the kid.”
Cosby admitted he wasn’t quite ready to be the team leader as a junior even though he was the Cougars’ leading scorer and made the all-county team. It was a difficult season with no victories until an unexpected one in the first round of the tournament.
“My senior year I didn’t want to go out how I did my junior year,” Cosby said. “I’m just glad I got to be the leader of a great team.”
The Cougars won 16 games and were a No. 2 seed in the tournament. Cosby, a guard, averaged 18.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the field. He was the CBC Kenton Trail player of the year, the District 9 Division II player of the year and made the all-Southwest District third team. He will play college basketball at NCAA Division III Bluffton.
Before the season, Spriggs told Cosby his team needed him to lead. So Cosby was usually the first player in the gym and the last player to leave. Spriggs said when your best player is your hardest worker then you have a leader.
“I can be vocal at times, but I like to set more by example just by working hard, always giving a hundred percent,” Cosby said.
Out of the coach’s view at times Cosby helped newcomer Nasiim McKay fit into the team. McKay transferred from Springfield and missed the early open gyms because of football. So Cosby made sure McKay understood what the coaches wanted from him. McKay averaged 16.4 points and also made the all-county team.
“Jameel’s one of those kids that leads and kids follow him,” Spriggs said. “He’s in the gym, they want to be in the gym because they want to get better because he wants to get better. It just kind of snowballed.”
Cosby’s father, Teddy Cosby, played at Kenton Ridge and made the all-county team in 1986.
“As I grew up he always pushed me hard and nothing was ever given,” Cosby said. “I always had to work hard to earn it. And I’m just extremely blessed to have him in my life.”
Springfield also put two players on the all-county team, senior Leonard Taylor and junior RaHeim Moss. The other team members are seniors Logan Coppock of Greenon, Clay Mastin of Tecumseh, Aaron Schack of Shawnee and juniors Charlie Bertemes of Southeastern, Adonis Davis of Emmanuel Christian and Sabien Doolittle of Catholic Central.
Catholic Central’s Cody Sarensen was named coach of the year. In his second season with the Irish, he led them to the district final for the first time in 21 years and won, a 22-4 record and a No. 10 ranking in the final Division IV state poll.
The Southwestern Officials Sportsmanship Awards have been given to a coach and player each year since 2007. Springfield’s Isaiah Carson won the coach award this year and Chase Billet of Southeastern won the player award.
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