A verbal commitment last June to the Wisconsin basketball program by Ethan Happ was met with some questions regarding whether his decision was a reach.
Happ earned some validation on Thursday afternoon.
The Rockridge junior was named to The Associated Press Class 2A All-State first team, becoming what many believe is the first player in school history to earn the honor from the media. Happ appeared on every ballot, finishing with 123 points.
No other small-school player came within 16 points.
"It's an honor," said Happ, the only junior on the Class 2A first-team list. "I don't know how many people have gotten this from Rockridge, so it's good to represent my school. I couldn't have done it without my teammates. They're the ones who make me look good."
One year after earning honorable-mention honors, Happ took his game to another level. With the spotlight on his back after the Wisconsin commitment, he averaged 23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 steals this season as the Rockets won their first regional title in a decade.
Happ, who missed four games this year because of a leg injury, scored in double figures in all but one game.
"I've worked hard all offseason," Happ said. "It just came together during the season. It's too bad we couldn't get a farther run in the postseason."
One of two small-school players named to the Chicago Tribune Illinois Mr. Basketball ballot earlier this week, Happ is the lone local player to earn first-team All-State honors.
"I was confident in myself before these accomplishments," Happ said. "I wasn't trying to prove anything to get these. It's an honor to get them."
Johnston, Hunter net second-team accolades: Erie senior forward Jacob Johnston ended his career with Class 1A second-team All-State honors. Johnston, who scored 89 points in two regional games, received the most votes on the second team.
"I've worked hard the last few years," said Johnston, who averaged 22.5 points. "It's worked out. We won regionals and hard work pays off."
In helping Monmouth-Roseville to its first sectional title in six years, junior guard Martel Hunter snagged a spot on the Class 2A second team. Hunter averaged 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals for the Titans.
Making honorable mention in Class 2A were Riverdale senior guard Jared Richmond (19.0 points per game) and Kewanee freshman forward Donovan Oliver (17.0 ppg, 10.0 rebounds per game). Wethersfield junior guard Trevor Lay (21.0 ppg) and Galva junior guard Dexter Ingals (18.6 ppg) were Class 1A honorable mention.
Today is Sunday, March 9, the 68th day of 2014. There are 297 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done to sidewalks, shade trees, fences and gardens by hogs that are running at large about town. 1889 -- 125 years ago: H.C. Cleveland was elected air knight captain of Rock Island Division Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias. 1914 -- 100 years ago: B.W. Wilson, authority on birds and their habits, spoke at the weekly luncheon at the Rock Island Club. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The famous Dionne quintuplets have been invited to visit King George and Queen Elizabeth in Toronto on May 22, but Papa Dionne thinks their majesties should include the Callander nursery in their tour. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Ever been smothered by funny stuff? Well more than 2,600 people were last night when two boys named Tom and Dick Smothers took a "rocky, twisting road to folk music" in Davenport Masonic Temple. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Moline residents soon may be asked to recycle part of their garbage and might even get paid for it.