* Dereke Tipler -- NMCC
Tabbed as a "can't-miss" player entering the season, Tipler was unanimously voted our player of the year. The senior guard once again led the team to the Class 3A Final Four, where his Eagles took second place. And as usual, Tipler was at his best on the big stage, scoring 37 points in the semifinals and leading his team in scoring in the championship game.
The powerful Tipler was nearly unstoppable from getting into the paint, where he could score with his soft touch or where he could find his teammates for easy baskets. He averaged 20 points, eight assists and three steals this year.
Tipler, a two-time state champion, not only established himself as probably the best player in NMCC history, he also will be known as one of the top point guards in Southeast Missouri history. There isn't a more sure lock for Class 3A all-state than Tipler. Tipler is a McDonald's All-American nominee and he is definitely a candidate for the Mr. Show-Me Basketball this year.
* Lontas McClinton -- Sikeston
From the start of the season to the finish, McClinton was one of the most consistent players in the area. The 6-foot-3 junior led the Bulldogs in most offensive categories, including points (19) and rebounds (10).
With tremendous quickness and athleticism, McClinton could either take his opponent off the dribble or he could post up. He was most dangerous in the post where no one player could stop him. When he got the ball, he could simply shoot over the top of his opponent, shoot his patented turn-around jumper, or please the crowd with one of his vicious slam dunks. But most teams opted to play a zone defense and try to surround McClinton with two and sometimes three defenders.
McClinton led the SEMO Conference in scoring and, after Tipler, received the most votes for the all-conference team. He saved his best game of the year for the area's top team when he scored 32 points with 14 rebounds against NMCC.
* Chris Carr -- Dexter
After graduating a stellar group of seniors, the Bearcats knew that Carr would have to be the go-to man for this year's team. The 6-foot-7 senior center delivered, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds and two blocks per game.
Carr and the Bearcats were once again a power in the area, finishing with a 24-4 record while claiming yet another Bloomfield Christmas Tournament title and another Stoddard County Conference Tournament title. And Carr was the main reason behind the success.
He was effective with his back to the basket in the post or he could step out and hit the 15-footer. But he was probably even more dominant on the defensive end where his shot-blocking ability was always the ultimate intimidator.
Carr was named to the all-tournament teams at Bloomfield and in the conference tourney. He was also selected first team all-region and all-conference.
* Jordy Mixon -- Charleston
Standing only 5-foot-11, Mixon isn't your average post player. But what is so remarkable about Mixon is his production. Undersized against nearly every team, he would consistently out-play his opponent.
This first team all-SEMO Conference player was automatic with the mid-range jumper and he was a force on the offensive and defensive boards. He averaged 19 points and six rebounds per game while leading his Bluejays to the Class 2A Quarterfinals, the school's longest playoff run since 1996.
How did he get it done? What he lacked in height, he made up for with his speed, strength and quickness. In other words, he's a tremendous athlete. In fact, Mixon's style of play is a throwback to the old days. He wins with pure hustle and determination. The mid-range jumper, which he is a master at, is a lost art. Plus, Mixon is a tough defensive player and a great leader for the Bluejays. He is probably the best rebounder in the area that is under 6-foot.
* Sherome Cole -- Richland
No player in the area is more gifted on the offensive end of the court than Cole. The senior put up 27 points per night with 11 rebounds, four steals and four assists per game. Cole's 27 points per night was the best output in Southeast Missouri.
Cole used his exceptional quickness and speed to break defenders down or score easy layups. He simply was a man among boys at the Class 1A level. But Cole would still get his points against the better teams of the area like Dexter and Twin Rivers, where he scored 31 and 30 points respectively. Cole was named to the all-tournament teams in the Oran Invitational, the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament and the Stoddard County Conference Tourney.
Cole played four full varsity seasons with the Rebels. Although nothing has been made public, it's almost a certainty that he holds school records for his amazing scoring ability.
* J.T. Williams -- Portageville
On a team loaded with players of equal talent, Williams was the one with the ball in his hands when the game was on the line. After growing three inches from last year, 6-foot-3 senior scored 14 points with eight rebounds and five assists per game for one of the top teams in the area.
Williams combined good size with fundamental skills which created mismatch problems for nearly every opponent. His ability to hit the 3-point shot, or take it to the rack caused plenty of headaches this year in the Bootheel. He was the most underrated player in the area this year.
* Ronland Ranson -- NMCC
Ranson's immense size is nearly impossible to simulate for opposing coaches. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, Ranson was an immovable object in the paint. He scored 15 points with 11 rebounds per game for the Class 3A runner-up Eagles.
Ranson combines his size with a soft touch around the goal and has tremendous hands. He grabs every rebound in sight and is a solid post defender. He possesses tremendous instincts and he has quick hands on defense. Ranson was named first team all-SEMO Conference and first team all-region.
* Eric Henry -- Bell City
Henry was the most consistent, driving force behind the Cubs' Final Four run this year. The 6-1 junior, who was a second team all-stater a year ago, is a sure-fire first teamer this season as he had a phenomenal year.
Henry averaged 20 points with 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the Cubs this year. With his speed and quickness, Henry has a dimension of athleticism that 1A teams don't see very often. He could score from anywhere on the floor and was nearly unstoppable in transition. Henry was named first team all-conference and first team all-region.
* Lezcano Dean -- Charleston
Dean began the year battling injuries, but the 6-4 senior finished up strong. He was the Bluejays' most consistent player during the playoff run.
Dean averaged 13 points and six rebounds per game and he was typically the man with the ball in his hands when the going got tough. His patented jab-step and 3-point shot was an unguardable weapon and he burned many teams with it, including Twin Rivers in the Class 2A Sectional game.
Dean was named second team all-SEMO Conference and second team all-region.
* Chad Gill -- Dexter
There were some that thought Gill was the Bearcats' top player this year. He certainly has an argument as he averaged 14.9 points per game and was one of the grittiest, toughest players on the court night in and night out.
Gill had the capabilities to bury teams with long 3-pointers, but he could also keep teams honest by slashing to the basket for layups.
Gill was named to the all-tournament team in the Bloomfield Tournament and the Stoddard County Conference Tournament. He was named first team all-conference and second team all-region.
* Eric Booker -- Portageville
Booker was yet another cog in the Bulldog senior machine this year. The 6-3 forward was Portageville's most athletic player and was the team's top rebounder at nine per game.
He averaged 13 points per game and was usually assigned on defense to the opposing team's top post player. He was named second team all-region.
* Derrell Minner -- NMCC
One thing the Eagles could do was dominate the boards. And none more so than the 6-foot-8 Minner, who led the team with 12 rebounds per game while scoring 10 points per game. He was also a shot-blocking machine getting three per game. His presence alone forced teams to take ill-advised shots in the paint.
* C.J. Hadley -- Bell City
Coming into the season, Hadley was a promising but unproven commodity. It quickly became known that the Cubs would be a force this year with the 6-4 senior on the court. Statistics don't tell the whole story with Hadley, but they're not bad as he scored 15.9 points per game and grabbed 12.2 rebounds for the Cubs' Final Four team.
* Nathan Seyer -- Oran
Playing in the shadow of Ryne Wood, the 6-3 Seyer picked his game up and had a huge junior year for the Eagles. He led the team in scoring with 16 points per game and rebounds per game with seven boards on average. He was the most athletic player on the team and was the top defender, averaging three steals per game.
* Dominitrix Johnson -- Bell City
The third of the Cubs' terrific trio, Johnson doesn't even look like the same player from a year ago, and not just because he's wearing a different uniform. The sophomore point guard was the Cubs' best player at times, scoring 15 points with four rebounds and six assists per game. He even had his best game against 3A power Dexter, scoring 29.