The Minnesota Mr. Basketball committee announced Wednesday night the list of 10 finalists for the 2017 award, given to the top senior boys’ player in the state.
They are, in alphabetical order: Trae Berhow, Watertown-Mayer; Brad Davison, Maple Grove; Jordan Horn, Tartan; Theo John, Champlin Park; Isaac Johnson, Minneapolis North; Goanar Mar, DeLaSalle; Tywhon Pickford, Maple Grove; Nathan Reuvers, Lakeville North; Jericho Sims, Cristo Rey Jesuit; McKinley Wright, Champlin Park.
The announcement comes in the wake of controversy surrounding longtime Mr. Basketball chairman Ken Lien, who stepped down from the position after a series of social media posts that were perceived as racist and offensive to black and Muslim communities.
Jim Robinson, a longtime basketball referee and former supervisor of basketball officials for the Minnesota State High School League, has assumed responsibility continuing the award.
The Mr. Basketball award traditionally does not reveal the members of the selection committee. Robinson declined on Thursday to name the members of the current committee, citing concerns about a past understanding of confidentiality and uncertainty about future committee members.
“I understand that transparency is important and we want to be fair to people and to the press and give them the correct information,” Robinson said. “But the work of the committee has gone on since last November, and right now we don’t want to give out any other information until we’re sure about what we’re going to do moving forward.”
Robinson confirmed that Lien is no longer a part of the award, saying “Mr. Lien left the committee abruptly and is no longer involved.”
The 2017 Mr. Basketball award winner will be announced following the completion of the boys’ basketball state tournament. A date for the announcement has not been determined. Robinson said that the names of the committee will be released then.
“We will be transparent and let people know who is on the committee after the award is announced,” he said. “All I’m saying is trust in the people who have overseen the award for the last 40 years and be patient with us. We just think it’s in the best interest of the award to wait.”
In light of the Mr. Basketball award controversy, the boys’ basketball coaches association last week announced the formation of a new award for seniors, the McDonald Award, named for Hall of Fame Chisholm coach Bob McDonald. The first McDonald Award will not be given until the 2017-18 season.