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 Thursday, April 17, the 107th day of 2014. There are 258 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Journeymen shoemakers of Rock Island struck for higher wages yesterday morning, asking 25 percent increases. Employers have acceded to their demand. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Lighting struck wires of the Merchants Electric Light Co. during a furious storm, and many Rock Island business houses were compelled to resort to gas as a means of illumination. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, decided to erect a new edifice at a cost of about $60,000. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Willard Anderson, junior forward for the Augustana College basketball team, which won 17 out of 22 contests, was elected captain of the quintet. 1964 -- 50 years ago: John Hoffman, Moline, president of the Sac-Fox Council of Boy Scouts, will be honored for his 50 years in scouting by members of the council at a dinner Thursday evening. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The Quad-Cities has what is believed to be the area's first elite-class gymnast. It's the stuff upon which Olympic competitors are made. Tiffany Chapman, of Rock Island, not only has earned the highest possible gymnast ranking, she won the honor at age 11.