With the conclusion to the 2019-2020 high school basketball season, and while the state of Arizona is currently trying to navigate the COVID-19 virus, as many other states around the country also look to make adjustments and remain healthy, it is 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.
While this time in our nation's history has been very difficult to navigate, personally and for businesses, it was also a high school basketball season that was filled with intrigue and also some interesting facts that our state had not encountered before.
For Desert Vista High School Head Coach Gino Crump, the 2019-2020 high school basketball season was a very difficult season to navigate through, as Crump found himself suspended by the school early in the season, but then, through diligent efforts by Crump and his close friends and supporters, Crump was able to return to his team after a suspension that threatened his employment and his character. Through excellent leadership and a strong commitent to his team and the Desert Vista program, Crump returned to a very young, but very talented team that included as many as (8) sophomores, and finished off the season with a 6A State Championship for the Desert Vista program - finishing with an amazing 28-3 overall record on the season.
In the state championship game, Crump and his staff would lead their group to a strong 75-55 championship victory over a tough Mountain Pointe team, led by a very well-balanced attack from the Thunder group. While Desert Vista was a very talented team, young or not, the inspiring fact was that the team banded together to bring home the state title - coaches and players, amidst a chaotic season that was scarred by the potential firing of their head coach.
For Gino Crump and his coaching staff, the 2019-2020 high school basketball season was much bigger than just basketball. It was a season where the Desert Vista coaching staff and players had to overcome major obstacles off the basketball court, before ever making it back to the basketball court. The very young men for the Desert Vista program had to deal with their head coach facing termination after the start to their season, and then continue playing while Gino Crump was suspended, unsure of their head coach's future, and then after he returned, get right back to business - a very difficult task for young student-athletes to have to deal with in high school, especially when many of them are 15, 16 and 17 year-old kids.
Throughout this year's chaotic season, and with the future of their head coach hanging in the balance, the young men from Desert Vista and the coaching staff that stepped up to take over the reigns for Crump, went through a lot to maintain a high level of performance throughout the season and finish off with a big 28-3 overall record - losing only (1) game while Crump was on suspension, and then only losing (1) more game on the season after Crump's climatic return to his team.
Gino Crump's strong leadership of his program, not just his team, throughout this very dififcult year, and his ability to maintain a high level of consistency on his staff and with his players throughout the season, not missing a beat all season long, while others tried to tear down his character, was epic and heart-warming. As Crump gave a speech to his friends and supporters after hearing that he could return to his team, as the investigation had ended, Crump cried while speaking of his journey back to his team. He spoke about what he gave up personally to coach the Desert Vista program, and his commitment to his kids - his players.
Every year when our staff selects our players and coaches of the year (over the past 20+ years), our evaluation is primarily based on basketball performance. But this year is very different, as our selection was based on something bigger than just basketball. For Gino Crump and his committed coaching staff, at all levels of his basketball program, this year was a season that was filled with much more.
Our role models in life often involve the people that we do not know personally, but should be impacted by the people that we see every day - people that influence our lives personally and shape us to become the people that we are on a daily basis. Gino Crump was a strong role model for his program and his community all season. From the time that he pushed his kid to go to the lockerroom to avoid a fight after his team faced St. Mary's High School; to the way he carried himself through a very difficult time when his character was being questioned by his school's administration; to the manner in which he left his program on suspension, to when he returned to the basketball court to lead his team to win this year's 6A State Title.
For everything that Gino Crump went through this high school basketball season, and for the manner in which he led his program throughout a very difficult time and season, Gino Crump has been selected as our 2020 Arizona High School Basketball Coach of the Year.