"What he was able to accomplish this year was amazing, but it wasn't by accident," Albert said. "He realized what he wanted his senior season to be and he made it that way."
Aaron McDonald, Reservoir. In terms of breaking a defense down and getting to the rim, there were few county players better than McDonald this winter. His dribbling skills and finishing skills were difficult to guard for even the best defenders and when they played off him, he punished them by knocking down 3-point shots (22 made on the season).
"I didn't think there was anyone in the county that could stay in front of him off the dribble, so really it was just a matter of balancing when he should go and when he should shoot that jump shot," Reservoir coach Mike Coughlan said. "He became a very efficient scorer."
In truth, McDonald's senior season started slowly, averaging less than 10 points a game while the team started 4-4. But as the year went on, McDonald found another gear.
Down the stretch as Reservoir embarked on a 12-game winning streak before losing to City in the playoffs, McDonald scored in double figures in every game but one. Mixed in were three games of 21 or more points, including a career-high 28 in a win over Oakland Mills.
"Aaron is naturally a very unselfish player, which is why I think he would be a great point guard at the next level, but there are times when you have to be selfish in the best interest of the team and he realized that," Coughlan said. "And, honestly, when he's playing well and being aggressive, he demands so much attention that it opens everything up for the other kids too."
McDonald ended up with averages of 12.9 points, 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals a game.
Mamadou Ndiaye, Oakland Mills. When Ndiaye transferred in this year from Laurel High School, coach Jon Browne knew he was getting a player with elite talent. Even he, however, says he didn't anticipate the kind of immediate all-around impact that the 6-foot-7 forward provided.
"He came in ready to go and he was absolutely invaluable to us," Browne said. "We needed an inside presence, especially in the first half of the season as we were bringing guys along, and he gave us that on both ends."
Ndiaye went for 20 or more points in each of his first nine games. Later in the year, against Long Reach, he went for a season-high 32 points. Injuries late in the year hampered him, but he still finished with a 19.1 scoring average.
To go along with that he pulled down 9.8 rebounds and blocked a county-best 2.2 shots a game. He also quickly developed into one of the area's most exciting players, routinely throwing down highlight-reel dunks.
"In terms of raw athleticism, he's the best I've coached," Browne said. "He still has some growing to do mentally and emotionally, but he has the potential to be in the conversation among the best players to ever come through Oakland Mills."
Kyle Reilly, Reservoir. On a Gators' squad that thrived because of its balance, Reilly was arguably the team's most consistent piece and often served as the team's go-to-player. He was a deadly 3-point shooter, making 42 percent of his attempts and finishing with 46 made threes on the season, while also boasting an underrated ability to get to the basket.
"Kyle has never lacked confidence and the really good players have to have that," Reservoir coach Mike Coughlan said. "You have to have that mentality and willingness to let it go in big spots. He was consistent last year coming off the bench for us and naturally even more was expected of him this year, and I though he really stepped up."
Coughlan also points out Reilly's often-overlooked skills on the defensive end.
"He always wanted to guard the big players and he wanted to do it at the critical junctures," Coughlan said. "With his length and conditioning, he was extremely strong for us in that area."
Offensively, Reilly went for 15 or more points on 10 different occasions. His best game came against Atholton during the regular season, where he exploded for 33 points on the strength of six 3-pointers.
On the season, Reilly also added four rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals a game.
Charlie Thomas, River Hill. Although just a junior this winter, Thomas found himself as one of the most imposing and versatile county players. As a 6-foot-7 forward, Thomas not only dominated on the low post, but also stepped outside to knock down a career-high 20 3-pointers. His all-around skill set helped him average 20.2 points, a county-best 11.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game.
"I thought the biggest thing for him was playing with more confidence and a lot of that comes from playing with a top tier AAU team, where he plays against top-level Division I players," River Hill coach Matt Graves said. "That experience in the offseason made him more comfortable handling the ball and shooting the three, which were two areas he really improved."
Thomas scored in double figures in every game but two, including a season-high 34 points in an early-season victory over Centennial. He also posted a pair of 30-point outings. While he hasn't received any official offers yet, Thomas is already garnering significant Division I college interest according to Graves.
"He's definitely on the radar for a lot of schools," Graves said. "The key will be continuing to work on his ability to get to the basket off the bounce, because with his size and shooting ability he has the kind of game that should translate well to the next level."