The untimely end to this yearâ€™s boys basketball season may have come more than three weeks ago, but the individual postseason awards are coming in right on schedule.Â
Three local talents were named to the All-State team Tuesday, as voted on by the members of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.Â
New Britainâ€™s Tahmeen Dupree was recognized as an outstanding member of Division I while big men Donovan Clingan of Bristol Central and Innovationâ€™s LJ Hazelwood received the honor as two of the top players in Division II.
Dupree was one of the leading scorers on a New Britain team that reached the second round of its state tournament before the season was cut short and was the top scorer in the Hurricanes first-round win over Wilton.Â
â€śIt felt good to achieve [All-State],â€ť Dupree said. â€śItâ€™s something Iâ€™ve always wanted to accomplish during my high school career and I finally got to do it my senior year.â€ť
He was named an All-CCC selection for the second consecutive year and capped off his high school career by scoring his 1,000th career point. He joins top talents such as East Catholicâ€™s Matt Knowling and Windsorâ€™s Amir Spears on the all-Division I roster.
â€ś[Being named all-state] means a lot,â€ť Dupree said. â€śI feel like I already built a legacy with scoring my 1,000th point and now to top it off with All-State. I donâ€™t remember the last time New Britain had an All-State athlete in basketball so I think thatâ€™s definitely a big bonus.â€ťÂ
Clinganâ€™s exploits garnered him national attention over the season as his seven-foot frame and insane stat lines continuously wowed spectators and scouts. Leading Bristol Central to the fourth seed in the Division II tournament, the sophomore reached 1,000 career points this year and was a mere four points shy of breaking the Ramsâ€™ record for points scored in a single season.Â
Heâ€™s received All-CCC honors and was the MaxPreps Connecticut Player of the Year due to his 24.8 points, 17.6 rebounds and 6.4 blocks per game averages and entered his second year with offers to play collegiately at UConn, UMass, Syracuse, Georgetown and Providence.Â
â€ś[This shows] my hard work paying off,â€ť Clingan said. â€śItâ€™s making me realize how proud everyone is of me, but I canâ€™t stop working, I got more to come.â€ť
After leading Innovation to a Division V title last year, Hazelwood continued to anchor his team's dominance as it jumped to Division II for this season. This is Hazelwoodâ€™s second straight year being an All-State selection thanks to his double-double average of 13.5 points and 10.9 rebounds.Â
â€śIt feels good just knowing that every piece of work that I put in paid off,â€ť Hazelwood said. â€śEven though itâ€™s an individual award, it just shows how far our program has come. We always talk about earning respect and I think thatâ€™s a big step in the right direction.â€ť
Hazelwoodâ€™s final game of his career wasnâ€™t winning the championship he was looking for, but he did boost the Ravens to a CRAL championship. He will move on to play at Eastern Connecticut State next year.
â€śI donâ€™t know if our program would get to the point [it has] without somebody like LJ,â€ť head coach Matt Lance said. â€śHe has been able to demonstrate to all of the younger kids what it takes to be good. Heâ€™s not just good because he has superior skills, he is a very skilled player, but he works every single day. I just feel like he deserves it because he works incredibly hard.â€ť
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com