Belle Vernon’s Devin Whitlock named Tribune-Review Westmoreland Boys Basketball Player of the Year
Saturday, April 4, 2020 | 9:54 PM
Tribune-Review Boys Basketball Player of the Year
Belle Vernon, 5-9, So., Guard
A player reaching the 1,000-point milestone is a significant but somewhat common achievement in high school basketball.
Seeing a sophomore nudge his career point total into four digits, well, that’s different.
That indicates there’s a special scorer on the scene, and his high school career is just getting started.
For Belle Vernon this season, Devin Whitlock was that special scorer.
Averaging 19.9 points per game, Whitlock led the Leopards to a 16-6 regular season, the school’s first trip to the WPIAL finals since 1978 and its first PIAA playoff win since 1981.
Whitlock is the Tribune-Review Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“I actually didn’t even know anything about (1,000 points) until the (WPIAL quarterfinal) game against Quaker Valley,” Whitlock said. “A reporter came up to me after the game and said I was real close to 1,000 points, and he asked me if I knew or not. I didn’t. I was surprised.
“But it means the world to me. It’s a great achievement to reach in my sophomore year. It shows all the work I’ve been putting in is showing off right now.”
It’s probably an unfair expectation to foist upon a young player, but the question is too obvious to go unasked: If Whitlock already has 1,000 points after two high school seasons, what is a reasonable goal to set for his final total two years from now?
Hitting 2,000 seems too pedestrian an objective. Is it 2,500, a level only reached by three players in WPIAL history, none in the last 25 years? Is it the WPIAL record of 2,838 set by Valley’s Tom Pipkins in 1993?
Whitlock isn’t running from those expectations.
No harm in reaching for the stars.
“The goal is either 2,500 or 3,000. That’s the goal for the career,” he said matter of factly. “I definitely think I’ll take a run at it. I just need to keep doing the things I’ve been doing and keep working hard.”
Your team was exciting to watch this season with a deep group of athletes who could run the floor and make plays. Why do you think you were so successful?
I think we had such a good year because, coming into the season, we knew we had a lot of athletes and we knew we had a chance to have a good team. We bonded together from the start. We connected. We came off that good run in football. Most of the football players were on the basketball team. We already had that connection and we clicked just like that.
It really was quite a year for Belle Vernon, reaching the WPIAL finals in both football and basketball. You didn’t win either of those games, though. Is there still disappointment there?
It definitely hurts, but it pushes you to go harder for next year, to get better and get the job done and bring the gold home.
And you ran into some pretty good teams in the WPIAL playoffs, no?
Yeah. Thomas Jefferson and South Fayette in football. Our basketball schedule got a little rocky too.
You’re the kind of player who could attract the attention of colleges in either football or basketball. Do you lean either way? Are you a football player who plays basketball or a basketball player who plays football?
I think of myself as an athlete that plays both, to be honest.
You transferred from Monessen to Belle Vernon after your freshman year. How did the transition go for you?
I came over and I didn’t have that many friends, but I came to the first football practice and everybody treated me right. I felt like I was welcome, that I was supposed to be there.
You are losing some really talented seniors to gradation. What’s the future of Belle Vernon basketball look like?
I think we have some good kids coming up. The role players who came into that (four overtime) Lancaster Catholic game (in the PIAA playoffs), I think they’ll come up big next year too.
We talked about you hitting 1,000 points as a sophomore, but I don’t think anybody would describe your game as selfish. Do you think of yourself more as a passer or a scorer?
I love getting my teammates involved. When I get them involved in the game, I get myself involved too. I like scoring, but if my teammates could score, I’d rather them do it than shoot a wild shot myself.
Yeah, but I bet you’ll change your tune if you get close to 2,500 points as a senior.
Yeah, maybe I will.
FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS
5-9, Jr., Guard
When the game was on the line, the Knights wanted the ball in the hands of the athletic Bilinsky. He averaged 16.5 points and 4 assists per game for a Norwin team that went 12-9.
6-3, Sr, G
An athletic scorer who posed matchup problems for defenses, Comforti averaged 23.1 points per game and helped Southmoreland rally in the second half of the season to claim a playoff berth. He scored 32 points in an upset of Washington.
6-3, Sr., Guard
The seventh player in school history to hit 1,000 career points, Johnson was the catalyst for a playoff team at Mt. Pleasant. He averaged 18.7 points per game, including 40 against WPIAL Class 5A champ Laurel Highlands and 43 against Derry.
6-1, So., Guard
A combustible scorer and dangerous outside shooter, Marinchak averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for a Ligonier Valley team that won its final 16 games in the regular season and advanced to the District 6 finals.
6-0, Sr., Guard
A four-year starter, Marinchak was the leader on the floor for the Rams, averaging 18 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds per game. A 1,500-point scorer, he finished his career second on the school’s all-time scoring list.
6-6, Sr., Forward
Noonan emerged as a go-to scorer for a Wildcats team that nearly sneaked into the playoffs in a rebuilding year. He averaged 20.7 points per game, including a 38-point effort against Allderdice.
6-0, Sr., Guard
Averaging 20.5 points per game against a difficult Section 1-5A schedule, Parsons was one of the area’s most dynamic scorers. He finished his Greensburg Salem career eighth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,254 points.
6-2, Sr., Guard
The lone senior on the Warriors roster, Rocco averaged 23.4 points per game and led the team to a 14-8 record and WPIAL playoff appearance. A 1,000-point career scorer, he’ll play his college ball at Army.
6-4, Sr., Forward
Summerhill developed into a high-scoring senior leader for a Panthers team that rebounded from a slow start to go 8-6 in Section 3-5A and claim a playoff berth. An Edinboro recruit, Summerhill averaged 17.7 points per game, including 30 in a win over McKeesport.
Aidan Bushey, Derry, 6-0, Sr., G
Dawayne Howell, Monessen, 6-2, Sr., F
Gamal Marballie, Yough, 5-11, Jr., G
Marcus McCarthy, Hempfield, 6-5, Sr., F
Christian McGowan, Greensburg Central Catholic, 6-0, Jr., G
Cam Nusser, Belle Vernon, 5-10, Sr., G
Brandon Peterson, Southmoreland, 6-5, Sr., F
Jackson Pruitt, Jeannette, 6-1, Sr., G
Marquell Smith, Monessen, 6-4, Sr., F
Christian Zilli, Hempfield, 6-1, Jr, G
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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