By GRANT TRAYLOR
For W. Va. Sports Writers Asc.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – In terms of the pure talent level of athletes, there have been few years such as the 2015-16 season in Class A boys basketball.
The classification for small schools produced some big-time talent during the 2015-16 year with several players receiving interest from Division I programs.
Wheeling Central’s Chase Harler, who has signed to play for head coach Bob Huggins at West Virginia, headlined the group as the captain of the Class A All-State Team, as announced by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
“Harler is such a tremendous player and I wish him well at West Virginia,” Huntington St. Joe coach Ross Scaggs said. “He’s got a great skill set and he’s a terrific player.”
Harler, who was also named as the 2015-16 Gatorade W.Va. Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaged 24.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while being one of the top matchup problems in the state.
The Class A championship featured a special matchup between Harler and Huntington St. Joe’s Keith Clemons, who was also named to the Class A First Team.
Both went head-to-head into an overtime classic and, in the end, Clemons and the Irish earned the Class A championship with a 67-65 win.
Clemons finished with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds while Harler had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Harler leads a strong nucleus of four seniors nominated to the Class A First Team while Clemons heads the strong pack of underclassmen who will continue to bring elite level basketball to W.Va.’s smallest classification.
In addition to Harler, seniors named to the team include Magnolia’s Preston Boswell, Tucker County’s Seth Evans and Williamstown’s Landon Travis.
Boswell led all players in the state, scoring 35.4 points per game. He also added 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per night while leading the Blue Eagles to the Class A semifinals.
Evans was critical in leading Tucker County back to the state tournament. In a year where guard play reigned supreme, Evans was the premier post presence in Class A, scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds per game for the Mountain Lions.
Travis was the leader of a Williamstown team that spent the majority of the season in the top-10 behind his 17 points per night.
While the seniors were strong, the underclassmen proved just as tough with Clemons leading the group, which includes three juniors and one sophomore. Three of the four underclassmen are receiving strong Division I interest.
Clemons’ nomination to the Class A First Team served as vindication that he was back after missing his sophomore season with a knee injury. The Irish junior averaged 17.2 points, 7.5 assists and four rebounds per game while elevating his game at the state tournament to lead Huntington St. Joe to the title.
Clarksburg Notre Dame point guard Jarrod West is one of the top overall talents in the state and is receiving high-level Division I interest. West averaged 25 points per game, five rebounds, five assists and four steals per game while leading his team to the Class A quarterfinals.
Bishop Donahue’s Taylor Straughn was also one of the state’s leading scorers, averaging 27.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to go along with 2.1 assists each outing.
The lone sophomore on the Class A First Team is Tug Valley’s Jeremy Dillon. The 6-4 sophomore who is already receiving interest from Marshall averaged 16.8 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game for the sophomore-laden Panthers, who reached the Class A semifinals.
The second-team captain was Cameron senior Ryan Clutter, who averaged 25.3 points per game.
Other seniors on the second team included Wirt County’s Luke Smith and Man’s J.T. Keffer.
Juniors on the second team were Huntington St. Joe’s Deaundra Murphy, Fayetteville’s Will Fenton and Greenbrier West’s Adam Johnson.
Second-team sophomores included Tug Valley’s Tyler May and Van’s Taylor Jarrell.
Huntington St. Joe’s John Dawson was named captain of the third team.
The Class A All-State Boys Basketball Team, as selected by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association:
Chase Harler, Wheeling Central, Sr. (capt.)
Jarrod West, Notre Dame, Jr.
Preston Boswell, Magnolia, Sr.
Jeremy Dillon, Tug Valley, So.
Keith Clemons, Huntington St. Joe, Jr.
Taylor Straughn, Bishop Donahue, Jr.
Seth Evans, Tucker County, Sr.
Landon Travis, Williamstown, Sr.
Deaundra Murphy, Huntington St. Joe, Jr.
Taylor Jarrell, Van, So.
Ryan Clutter, Cameron, Sr. (Capt.)
Will Fenton, Fayetteville, Jr.
Luke Smith, Wirt County, Sr.
J.T. Keffer, Man, Sr.
Adam Johnson, Greenbrier West, Jr.
Tyler May, Tug Valley, So.
Luke Cooper, Paden City, Sr.
Logan Plummer, Parkersburg Catholic, Jr.
John Dawson, Huntington St. Joe, Jr. (capt.)
J.D. Hensler, Pocahontas County, Sr.
Noah Jones, Trinity, Sr.
Anthony Johnson, St. Marys, Sr.
Ricky Meadows, Fayetteville, Jr.
Tucker Cain, Valley-Wetzel, Sr.
Devin Acord, Greater Beckley Christian; Kenny Jo Adkins, Man; Riley Allen, Williamstown; Noah Aviles, Gilmer County; Cam Barnette, South Harrison; Hunter Bevins, Greenbrier West; Derrick Blain, Magnolia; Calvin Blankenhsip, Tug Valley; Steven Blume, Midland Trail; Noah Bohanna, Notre Dame; Isaac Brown, Williamstown; Isaiah Burgess, Hannan; John Burkhalter, Wheeling Central; A.J. Collins, Parkersburg Catholic; Ethan Crosten, Tucker County; Spencer Dean, Valley Fayette; Ryan Dilley, Pocahontas County; Caleb Duncan, Sherman; Joey Ewusiak, Madonna; Nathan Evans, Union; Sam Friend, Union; Todd Griffith, Notre Dame; Timothy Hahn, East Hardy; Dylan Harper, Midland Trail; Aaron Heasley, Paden City; Skyler Humphrey, Tucker County; Dylan Irvin, Valley Wetzel; Tavon Jeter, Madonna; Trent Jenkins, Montcalm; Sam Kincaid, St. Marys; Koltin Kleeh, Bishop Donahue; Drew Lett, Doddridge County; Marcus Lively, Fayetteville; Hayden McCarty, Charleston Catholic; Ethyn Miller, Calhoun County; Noah Minor, Midland Trail; Christian Moats, Trinity; Holden Moore, Hundred; Tristan Nichols, Wirt County; Brent Price, Wheeling Central; Cole Price, Van; Caleb Riggleman, Tygarts Valley; Hunter Riffle, Doddridge County; Ben Rock, Doddridge County; Trey Routt, Cameron; Trey Shuff, Gilmer County; Matt Skaggs, Midland Trail; Griffin Snyder, Richwood; Brett Tharp, East Hardy; Dylan Walker, Meadow Bridge; Mitch Winters, Magnolia