With the conclusion to the 2021-2022 Arizona high school basketball season, one of the best high school seasons to remember in our state's history, we are now ready to release our award recipients for the state's best in boy's and girl's basketball. After a previous high school basketball season that was impacted significantly by the COVID-19 virus (2020-2021), it was an awesome return to normality this past high school season, as fans and students returned to the games in force - making for some exciting action all season long, and some amazing finishes late in the season. It is now time for our Arizona Preps staff to return to the amazing high school basketball season that recently ended and make our selections for Arizona Coach and Player of the Year.
The 2021-2022 high school basketball season was one to remember for many reasons - filled with intrigue and loads of exciting basketball games and top performances from players. While there were many top performers throughout the season, there was no individual student-athlete in the state that was more dominant or impressive than Mesquite High School's gifted and superb 6-foot-2 senior guard Nate Calmese.
Before the beginning to the Arizona high school basketball season, I wrote about how dominant Calmese would be in his senior season, and he did not disappoint one bit. In fact, he actually exceeded everyone's expectations. Calmese dominated the state all high school season - leading his Mesquite High School program to the school's first ever 4A State Championship, and an impressive 27-3 overall record on the season.
Calmese averaged significant individual numbers on the season, posting 31.4 points, 4.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals per/game - some of the best individual numbers in the country by an individual player. Calmese did all he could personally to help lead his teammates to a state title this season, and he was successful in his efforts - leading Mesquite to the 4A State Championship in fine fashion, as the team was not nearly a favorite to win a state title, but Calmese and his teammates willed their way to winning it all. Calmese's half-court shot to defeat 4A defending state champion St. Mary's High School in the 4A State Semi-finals, will be remembered for many years to come, and highlighted the miraculous high school season that he had.
Calmese remains as our top overall unsigned prospect in the state's 2022 Class, and his college recruitment has been very slow and not nearly what he deserves as such a special individual basketball talent. Calmese currently possesses one Division-I offer from Lamar University.
Calmese is a unique guard prospect, as he is a terrific combo-guard prospect that enjoys having the basketball in his hands and making plays from either guard position. He has an excellent feel for the game and can make plays at ease, as a scorer or as a facilitator. His natural position though is as a point guard, so don't let his unique scoring prowess fool you. He is at his best as a point guard, where he is a handful for opposing guards to defend. Calmese has a pure shooting stroke with range, but is at his best when scoring off the dribble, where he has a strong handle of the basketball and is able to create off the dribble at a high level. He is always looking to make a play, which often times leads to scoring opportunities for his teammates. A very unselfish performer, Calmese makes players around him much better, and is a winner. He is also an excellent defender with quick hands and feet, and has excellent anticipation on the floor, which allows him to play passing lanes and put pressure on opposing guards. He is also a very good rebounder from the guard position, as a result of his good size as a guard, and competitiveness. He is a winner and is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Calmese comes from a very athletic family, as his father Greg Calmese was a standout football and basketball prospect at Moon Valley High School in the late 1980's, and his uncle Mike Calmese was also a star football and basketball performer at Moon Valley in the mid-1980's. Both family members continue to support this young man a great deal, which has also given him the fuel to develop over time and become a leader on and off the basketball court.