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 Saturday, Aug. 30, the 242nd day of 2014. There are 123 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: A large pair of elk, captured in Iowa, were exhibited in Market Square today. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Rock Island Arsenal dam was being constructed under the supervision of Charles Frances, of Lowell, Mass. 1914 — 100 years ago: Mrs. Frank Mixer, of Rock Island, was the winner of the final preliminary for the women's handicap golf cup at Rock Island arsenal links. 1939 — 75 years ago: Sixteen hundred persons — many from war-fearful Europe — arrived in New York aboard the German liner Bremen. For two days on the trip, passengers were cut off from the world with both incoming and outgoing radio messages banned. 1964 — 50 years ago: Police reported five youths have been involved in the theft of about seven cars in recent weeks. Three of the youths were arrested Saturday afternoon, one was in custody as the result of a previous arrest, and the fifth is expected to be arrested today. 1989 — 25 years ago: The Rock Island/Milan School Board is asking the city to tear down Franklin School and allow the school district to pay back the estimated $100,00 cost during 10 years.