Wisconsin Sports Network is proud to showcase the WSN High School Basketball Awards.
The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 15 semi-finalists, and five finalists for the award have now been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state tournament.
Devin Baumgart, 6-0, G, Freedom
Every good basketball team needs the player who is willing to do the dirty work on the defensive end of the court. For the Freedom Irish, that player is Devin Baumgart, a relentless 6-foot-0 senior defensive whiz who has helped the Irish to a 20-4 record heading into tonight's WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal game with Wrightstown. Baumgart may not be a big scorer, but his overall contributions to coach John Miron's squad have been enormous. He scored the game-winning basket in the waning seconds of the Irish's 66-65 regional final win at Appleton Xavier, and is averaging 5.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while also coming up with 1.6 steals per contest. Baumgart's toughness and willingness to put defensive pressure on the opposing ball handlers is a big reason why Freedom tied Wrightstown and Denmark for the title in the North Eastern Conference.
Nobal Days, 6-9, F, Racine Park
The Tulane University recruit completed his four-year high school career last Saturday with a loss to Waunakee in the WIAA Division 1 regional finals. Nonetheless, Days had a strong senior season for the Panthers, who finished 17-6 and won the Southeast Conference championship for the second time in the last four seasons. Days, who signed with NCAA Division I Tulane University last November, averaged 10.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.1 blocked shots per outing for coach Jim Betker and the Panthers. Days also altered and/or intimidated the shots of opponents as his presence on the court provided Park with a defensive stopper near the basket.
Thomas Francken, 6-2, G, Brookfield East
One of the many stellar defenders within the Brookfield East program, Francken's senior leadership and backcourt defense have played enormous roles in helping the Spartans to a 20-4 record entering tonight's WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game with rival Brookfield Central. Francken has the size, lateral movement and physical/mental toughness to make things extremely difficult for opposing guards. He can also score on the offensive end of the floor as he is averaging 13.0 points per game for a very balanced team under coach Joe Rux.
Levi Nienhaus-Borchert, 6-5, F, Kimberly
Voted by opposing coaches as the Player of the Year in the Fox Valley Association, Nienhaus-Borchert could have been a finalist in several categories as his versatility and productivity have led Kimberly to a 22-2 record under coach Luckey Wurtz. A physical, energetic and consistent forward, Nienhaus-Borchert is averaging 17.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists for the Papermakers, who take on FVA-rival Neenah tonight in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game. The Papermakers won the FVA championship and Nienhaus-Borchert has been one of the league's top rebounders in each of the past three seasons. He has committed to play at NCAA Division III Oshkosh.
Lucas Stieber, 6-3, G, Green Bay Southwest
Though Stieber is most likely lost for the rest of the season due to an injury, his defensive prowess for Green Bay Southwest was a major reason why the Trojans won the Fox River Classic Conference championship under coach John Polkowski. Stieber chased around the top offensive performer for the teams on the Green Bay Southwest schedule all winter and did an outstanding job of limiting their touches and holding down their scoring output. In addition, Stieber averaged 12.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocked shots per game as the Trojans won 22 of 24 games and play Kaukauna tonight in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game at Pulaski.