Player of the Year: Grant Verhoeven
School: Central Valley Christian
He's qualified because: The 6-foot-9 center leaves the tiny Visalia private school with the most accomplished combination of basketball and academic standards in Central Section history. A 4.0 grade-point average and Stanford scholarship are balanced with 1,765 rebounds (No. 1 in section annals), 2,598 points (No. 2), 570 blocks (No. 2) and a four-year team record of 111-17 (.867) winning percentage), according to section historian Bob Barnett. The rebounds are also No. 2 in state history to Emery of Emeryville's Darnell Robinson (2,209, 1990-93). Verhoeven averaged 27.4 points, 18.3 rebounds, 5.7 blocks and 2.6 steals this season as the Cavaliers went 28-3 and won the section Division IV championship. He posted double-doubles (10 or more points and rebounds) in 77 of his final 78 games.
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History has recorded Grant Verhoeven's body of work -- a truckload of gaudy numbers combined with class on the court and success in the classroom.
Next: Stanford of the Pac-12 Conference, where Johnny Dawkins awaits with a tingle.
"We're getting a terrific player with an unbelievable motor," the four-year Cardinal coach says of The Bee's boys basketball Player of the Year. "And a young man with a huge upside."
How Verhoeven's four-year career numbers at 312-student CVC -- 1,765 career rebounds, 2,598 points, 570 blocked shots and a four-year record of 111-17 -- will transfer to the major-college level is uncertain.
But Dawkins, who played in the NBA for nine years, welcomes the possibilities for the 6-foot-9, 225-pounder: "He'll come to us with some really good defensive instincts -- well advanced for someone in high school. And he represents himself well around the basket, blocking or altering shots. He's relentless on the boards, offensively and defensively.
"And, on the other side of the ball, I think we're getting a guy with a really good basketball IQ and the willingness to play with others with the concern for chemistry. He seems to understand the value of that while being able to score in the low post and step out from 15 feet."
Further, Dawkins says, the door will be open for Verhoeven to step right in and have an impact with the loss of nearly Stanford's entire front line in seniors Josh Owens, Andrew Zimmerman and Jack Trotter.
"It's important that Grant continues to develop and comes in with the sense of contributing," Dawkins says, "because there will be the opportunity to do that. We're very excited to see him help us."
And many section coaches, with all respect, are ready to see him go.
"There's going to be a lot of Stanford fans in the area," Tulare coach Mark Hatton says. "People are tired of getting beat up by him."
While the son of former Hanford and Fresno State great and NBA player Pete Verhoeven rarely found a D-IV match in his career -- delivering a staggering 41 points, 26 rebounds, six assists and five blocks in a 76-49 rout of Sierra for this season's D-IV title at Selland Arena as perhaps the greatest example -- he also proved more than worthy against all levels of competition.
Take this season for the 28-3 Cavaliers:
-- He had 24 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks in a 76-57 win over D-I Clovis East.
-- He had 31 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks in a 54-48 conquest of Tulare, which finished second in D-II. Redskins center Keonta Vernon is a Bee second-team All-Star.
-- And he had 24 points, 16 points and two blocks in a 59-50 victory over Mt. Whitney, the D-III runner-up. Pioneers center Will Nelson is a Bee first-team All-Star.
"Grant has the 'It factor,' the competitive greatness," Hatton says. "He just has it."
Blake Van Der Schaaf, who recently resigned as CVC's coach, called Verhoeven the "picture-perfect student-athlete."
And now in reflection of his high school career, Verhoeven -- who has lived in Hanford all his life -- says CVC was the picture-perfect home: "I couldn't even imagine going anywhere else.
"Now there are definitely bigger and better things waiting. I'm looking forward to it."