Sheboygan Lutheran senior Jacob Ognacevic
Wisconsin Sports Network is proud to showcase the WSN High School Basketball Awards.
The finalists for the top senior defense award have been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state tournament.
Derek Gray, 6-0, Sr., G, Madison La Follette
One of the key components of Madison La Follette's effective trapping defense, Gray and Co. have helped the Lancers to a 22-1 record and the Big Eight Conference championship. A quick, aggressive backcourt performer with quick hands, Gray and his twin brother, Derek, along with senior guards Ben Probst and Isaiah Stewart create havoc for opponents with their quickness, basketball smarts and aggressiveness. A first-team all-Big Eight Conference performer, Derek Gray is averaging 14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game for the Lancers.
Keonte Jones, 6-3, Sr., G/F, Madison East
Chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Eight Conference, Jones uses his length, speed and athleticism to make things very difficult on opponents. A three-year varsity performer for coach Matt Miota, Jones is light on his feet but also possesses good physical strengths, traits that help him on the defensive end. Jones averages 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 steals for the Purgolders, who take a 19-4 record into sectional play.
Elijah Lambert, 6-4, Sr., F, Racine St. Catherine's
A physically strong forward who can guard taller opponents because of his strength and positioning, Lambert's ability to shut down interior players has played an enormous role in St. Catherine's success this season. Lambert is quick off his feet, which has helped him to average 6.8 rpg to lead the Angels, who take a 24-0 record into sectional play. A four-year varsity performer, Lambert also is averaging 10.2 points, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals for St. Catherine's, which has worn down opponents with its stellar man-to-man defense.
Jacob Ognacevic, 6-8, Sr., F, Sheboygan Lutheran
Few players in state history have had a more prolific offensive season than Ognacevic, who needs to score just eight points at the sectional level to reach 1,000 for the season. Ognacevic would join Anthony Pieper of Wausaukee and Mickey Crowe of JFK Prep as the lone players in state history to score at least 1,000 points in a single season if he can get at least eight points in the Crusaders' sectional semifinal game against Hustisford. Equally important to the success of Sheboygan Lutheran this winter is Ognacevic's length, rebounding and shot blocking on the defensive end of the court. The Valparaiso recruit is averaging 16.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game to go along with his whopping 39.7 ppg average. It's hard to recall a player in Wisconsin prep history who scored at the level Ognacevic has this season while also playing at a very high level on the other end of the court.
AJ Vukovich, 6-5, Sr., F, East Troy
Like Ognacevic, Vukobich is a career 2,000-point scorer who is best known for putting the ball through the hoop. But this extremely athletic and exceptionally strong forward also is a beast on defense. He can block and alter shots, and is very quick off his feet to soar for rebounds. The University of Louisville baseball recruit averaged 27.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists while helping East Troy to a 21-3 record and the Rock Valley Conference championship. He also averaged 1.6 blocked shots per game for the Trojans, who lost to St. John's Military Academy in the WIAA Division 3 regional final.