Top of their class: Negaunee’s Jason Waterman, Marquette’s Kameron Karp lead area All-Upper Peninsula boys basketball players with berths on Dream Team
2019-20 All-U.P. Boys
Player, School Ht. Yr.
Ashton Janke, Dollar Bay 6-3 Sr.
Marcus Johnson, Iron Mountain 5-9 Sr.
Kameron Karp, Marquette 6-0 Jr.
Brad Simonsen, Houghton 6-6 Sr.
Jason Waterman, Negaunee 6-0 Sr.
Foster Wonders, Iron Mountain 6-5 Jr.
Divisions 1-3 First Team
Zach Carlson, Westwood 5-11 Soph.
Peyton Fedell, Escanaba 6-2 Sr.
Kody Hendricks, Norway 6-2 Sr.
Justin Nelson, West Iron County 6-8 Jr.
Jakson Sager, Negaunee 5-10 Sr.
Division 4 First Team
Jaden Borseth, Ewen-Trout Creek 6-3 Soph.
Nick Edington, Pickford 6-7 Sr.
Luke Gorzinski, North Central 5-7 Fresh.
Zach Gross, Brimley 6-3 Sr.
Brett LaFord, Carney-Nadeau 6-1 Sr.
Divisions 1-3 Second Team
Schyler Andersen, Manistique 6-2 Sr.
Cam Ballard, Gladstone 6-1 Jr.
Rane Castor, Gladstone 6-2 Jr.
James Harnick, Gwinn 6-3 Jr.
Jacob Kugler, Ishpeming 6-2 Sr.
Drew Lindberg, Negaunee 6-3 Sr.
Ty Lotterman, Marquette 6-3 Jr.
Keagan Monroe, Menominee 6-1 Sr.
Logan Parolini, Norway 5-11 Jr.
Pablo Salgado, Houghton 6-3 Jr.
Drew Wyble, Marquette 6-1 Sr.
Division 4 Second Team
Zach Englund, Mid Peninsula 5-10 Sr.
Davin Hill, Dollar Bay 5-8 Jr.
Connor LeClaire, Dollar Bay 5-10 Jr.
Isaiah May, Kinross Maplewood Baptist 6-1 Sr.
Morgan Miskovich, Wakefield-Marenisco 6-5 Sr.
Trey Paquin, Cedarville 5-11 Sr.
Pedro Pardo, Engadine 5-8 Sr.
Cameron Schultz, North Dickinson 5-10 Sr.
E.J. Suggitt, Rudyard 5-10 Soph.
Tyler Sundling, Rapid River 5-11 Sr.
Teams of the Year
Marquette Divisions 1-2
Iron Mountain Division 3
Dollar Bay Division 4
Players of the Year
Foster Wonders, Iron Mountain (and Mr. U.P. Basketball)
Ashton Janke, Dollar Bay Division 4
Coaches of the Year
Dan Waterman, Negaunee Divisions 1-3
Paul Polfus, Carney-Nadeau Division 4
Source: Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association
MARQUETTE — This was truly a year where the performances spoke for themselves with the elite Upper Peninsula high school boys basketball players.
As just about everything else that has happened during this coronavirus pandemic, voting for All-U.P. basketball teams took place remotely and without the usual up-close, personal exchanges at a meeting of around 20 sports media members from around the peninsula.
So the statistics and testimonials had to do the talking this year.
And they especially spoke volumes for two area players, each named to the six-man Dream Team — senior Jason Waterman of Negaunee and junior Kameron Karp of Marquette.
They led a group of 18 players and one coach who earned honors as the UPSSA voted at midweek for its annual U.P. awards.
It included the Divisions 1-3 Coach of the Year in Negaunee’s Dan Waterman and two players who made the D 1-3 First Team — Miners’ senior Jakson Sager and Westwood sophomore Zach Carlson.
It also includes six more on the D 1-3 Second Team — Marquette senior Drew Wyble and junior Ty Lotterman, Ishpeming senior Jacob Kugler, Negaunee senior Drew Lindberg, Manistique senior Schyler Andersen and Gwinn junior James Harnick.
And there’s also the honorable mention players — in Divisions 1-3, there were Westwood seniors Ty Alderton and Taylor Dellangelo, Negaunee senior Drew DuShane, Munising senior Josh Huotari and Marquette junior Lincoln Sager.
In Division 4, honorable mentions went out to a trio of juniors — Eli Luokkala of Republic-Michi-gamme, Parker Maki of Superior Central and Logan DePew of Newberry.
Waterman blew way past the 1,000-point high school career barrier, breaking it back in the Miners’ third game of the season in December as he averaged 15.5 points and five rebounds per game as a senior.
“That’s a tremendous career accomplishment,” said Dan Waterman, his father and head coach, who added that Jason has been a student with a 4.0 grade-point average. “I couldn’t be prouder of him.
“He’s been fortunate to have some great teammates. Early on, it was Dre Tuominen and Trent Bell when he was a freshman, and now its players like Brandon Sager.
“He takes on the other team’s primary scoring threats. I’m proud of the work he has put in and how humble he is.
“I guess if anything really stands out the most, it would be his efficiency. He’s always shot a high percentage through his high school career. As he’s gotten older, he gotten better at getting to the basket.”
Waterman, who made 54 percent on 2-pointers, 44 percent on 3s and 77 percent on free throws, made the First Team in the Mid-Peninsula Conference and Dream Team in the West PAC. He was blocked from a possible Player of the Year honor in both leagues by Iron Mountain junior all-stater Foster Wonders.
While his father noted his humility, Jason Waterman got more animated and emotional when he and his fellow senior starters beat Marquette 79-73 in overtime for their first high school win over the Redmen on Jan. 3.
“This is the best win (of) my career so far,” the younger Waterman said, though it’s worth noting whether that opinion might’ve been reassessed on March 5 when the Miners defeated previously undefeated Iron Mountain 52-51 on the Mountaineers court. “It was nice that it was at home and it’s about time we got ’em. We knew we could beat them, we knew it was going to take a great effort and I think we gave that effort.”
The lesson wasn’t lost on Marquette coach Brad Nelson, whose much younger squad got payback late in the regular season with a 61-54 victory at Marquette’s Barb Crill Gymnasium.
“Negaunee, give them credit,” Nelson after the Miners’ January win. “They’ve got seniors who have been in that grind, they know how to win that type of game and there’s a lot for my guys to learn from just watching what Negaunee did in that last four minutes.”
Karp, though, was one of the Redmen’s leaders all season as a junior, especially stepping up in what would prove to be their last game of the season, a 60-57 victory over Gaylord in the Division 1 district semifinal game played March 11.
It’s just one of the reasons Karp was named Player of the Year in the Great Northern Conference, the league that consists of the largest enrollment schools in the U.P.
“We had a play designed but it got a little funky,” senior teammate John Thomson said of Karp’s game-winning 3-point shot at the buzzer of the Gaylord game. “We were all looking at Kam like ‘Hey, you did it once before, you may as well just do it again.’ Sure enough, he did.
“I knew it was in. I knew once he shot it, it was in. I was sitting under the rim and I was like, ‘That’s money.’ I had confidence in Kam making that shot.”
Exactly a month earlier, Karp led the way at the free throw line in a win over Gladstone, making 13 of 14 charity tosses, including 7 of 8 in the last two minutes.
“That’s what point guards should do,” Nelson said in the aftermath of that game. Nelson was later named Coach of the Year in the GNC. “If you want to be an elite point guard — and I think he is — you gotta end games at the free throw line.
“We do free throw drills every day in practice. It’s one of those things I tell my players in the offseason: ‘If you can’t make free throws, you’re not going to win games.’ Fortunately for us, we’ve got one of the better free throw shooters in the U.P.”
Sager, who joined Jason Waterman as a First Teamer in the M-PC and Dream Teamer in the West PAC, averaged 13.6 ppg, eight assists and five rebounds while make 80 percent of his free throws and had a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“He makes our offense, he’s great off the dribble and has unbelievable hands and vision,” Coach Waterman said, adding that Sager calls half of the senior-led team’s sets because of the coach’s trust in him.
Sager scored 15 points in the win over IM with six assists and four rebounds and averaged 17 ppg and 5.2 assists in four games against Marquette and IM.
Carlson made a big splash as a sophomore with the Patriots, making the First Team in both the M-PC and the West PAC Iron Division. He did it by averaging 18.3 ppg, six assists and 5.2 assists, putting up at least 30 points three times.
And just to boot, Carlson was an all-defensive selection in each of the Patriots’ leagues.
Marquette’s Wyble was not only a Second Team pick in the GNC, but was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight time.
Out with an injury in the Redmen’s first game vs. Negaunee, the Miners’ big three combined for 63 points, but only managed 33 in the rematch when Wyble was on the floor.
That included Jason Waterman getting eight points, and just one point through the first three quarters, when Wyble often covered him.
“Drew guarded him for awhile,” Nelson said about defending Waterman. “Then we got into some foul trouble and John (Thomson) went out to guard him.
“When you’ve got two seniors who are captains and they say ‘Let me guard him,’ it gives you a lot of confidence as a coach to say go ahead and do your job, and those guys did it.”
Wyble’s junior teammate Lotterman earned a First Team berth in the GNC, averaging 14.5 ppg and five rebounds.
“He was one of the most active, athletic front-court players in the U.P. who provided the best inside presence for us,” Nelson said of his 19-3 team.
Kugler was a Second Team choice for Ishpeming in the M-PC and the Iron Division of the West PAC as he averaged 14 ppg and nine rebounds while making 77 percent of his free throws.
“He’s hard to defend on the inside and can really stretch defenses with his ability to shoot the 3,” Hematites head coach George Niemi said.
Lindberg, the third Negaunee senior honored, was a First Teamer in the M-PC and Iron Division of the West PAC, averaging 13.9 ppg and four rebounds while making 60 percent on 2-point shots and 89 percent at the free throw line.
“While he’s known as a 3-point shooter, he became very good off the dribble,” Coach Waterman said. “His growth has been the biggest factor in our team making the jump from scrappy underdog to heavyweight contender.”
Andersen was in a different situation with an improving Manistique team. A Second Team pick in the M-PC, he’s known as extremely athletic after also starring on the gridiron in the fall, as he’ll play football at Northern Michigan University.
His biggest highlight may have been a 30-point night in a 77-70 loss at Division 2 power Escanaba in late January.
Harnick, another junior in this group, was a Second Team selection in the M-PC and Iron Division of the West PAC, averaging 16.5 ppg and seven rebounds while making 48 percent on 2-pointers and 34 percent on 3s.
Putting up 16 games scoring in double figures, his highs were 32 vs. Hancock, 29 and 23 vs. Gladstone, 27 against Munising and 25 vs. Ishpeming in the Modeltowners’ Division 3 district opener.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.