With the EABL and WEABL Finals on Wednesday 3rd April, Basketball England has this week announced the winners of the end of season awards, with Ipswich Basketball Club players featuring heavily.
Ipswich Basketball Academy, who play as Copleston High School in both the Elite Academy Basketball League and the Women's Elite Academy Basketball League, have had their best ever season in terms of player awards, with coaches around the League voting on MVP, MIP, DPOY and 1st and 2nd Teams.
Six members of IBA, all of whom came through the youth program at Ipswich Basketball Club, were named winners, with Ethan Price becoming only the second player in IBA history to be named Most Valuable Player.
Head Coach Nick Drane offered his comments on the awards: "It’s fantastic recognition for the programme to have so many of our players selected for individual awards and the All Academy Teams. What Ethan has achieved as a first year, who wasn’t a particularly high profile player coming into his first season in the EABL, to be recognised as the winner of both of the major individual honours is awesome.
I think a lot of people had high expectations for Esther and it’s been great to see her not only live up to them, but surpass those expectations, winning Defensive Player of the Year and to lead the conference in almost every statistical category.
Ben and Veron have both been rocks for us this season, carrying much of the load of at both ends of the floor. Cameron Taylor-Willis’s selection to the All First Team is great – she’s still in the lower school, so to be named as one of the best five players in the league is fantastic. Ella’s development throughout the season has been great to see – and for her to be recognised is great for her."
Assistant Coach Adam Robinson added: "What an amazing season for our academy, with so many players being recognised. Copleston have accounted for 50% of the individual award winners for the two academy league’s in the south, its superb. Ethan Price is just so very tall."
The MVP voting was equally tight in the South Conference, but despite impressive season’s from Itchen’s Jeremy Sochan and Barking’s Ade Adebayo, Copleston’s Ethan Price was simply too good to look past. The win gives Price his 3rd award of the season after being named Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday and an All-1st Team selection yesterday.
Price posted the highest efficiency rating of any player in the EABL this season at 31.1 and was one of only two players to average over north of 20 points a game on the year. His stats of 20.7ppg, 14.3rpg, 2.1apg, 2.4spg and 3.4bpg were clearly enough to impress the rest of the EABL and were hard to argue against come the end of season voting. (Source: EABL.org)
Ethan Price; "It's an honour to be recognised for two big awards. The hard work I've put in over the past year has paid off but I couldn't have done it without the staff and players around me. We've all played together for years now, so I'm excited to see what we can achieve together next year, with hopefully more team success."
Ethan was joined in the All-EABL South Teams by teammates Ben Winter and fellow first-year Veron Eze. For Ben, the season has been somewhat stop-start due to niggling injuries, but the point guard, who was ranked #15 at Deng Camp in 2018, continued to demonstrate his ability as a versatile scorer and improved athleticism, averaging 16.7ppg, 5.5rpg, 4.9apg, 2.8spg. Veron made his mark back in England after a year at Stella Azzurra in Italy, rejoining IBA and going on to be one of only two players (with Ethan Price) to average more than 20ppg, along with a number of highlight dunks. Finishing the season with 20.3ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.8apg and having only turned 17 in January, Veron still has huge potential to improve.
Ben Winter; "I'm delighted to be selected to the 2nd Team given that I've had a season frustrated by injuries. This recognition gives me more motivation to work hard in the close season and make sure I come back in 2019/20 at full fitness."
Veron Eze; "I'm truly grateful to be acknowledged for my performances this season. I feel that it reflects the hard work I've put in this year being back in Ipswich and I'm looking forward to next season already."
In the MVP conversation throughout the season was Esther Little, and despite ultimately losing out to Megan Haines of CoLA in the final vote, Esther didn't go home empty handed, collecting the Defensive Player of the Year award for the WEABL South. The tall guard has all of the physical tools to dominate a game defensively, demonstrated by her averages of 19.8ppg, 26.1eff, 12.7rpg, 5.7apg, 3.8spg, 1.3bpg. Esther fills the stat sheet in every category, and her rebounding and eye for the ball on defensive has led to huge blocks and steals numbers per game. This was further supported by being named to the All-WEABL South 1st Team.
Esther Little:"It’s great to be named Defensive Player of the Year, it’s the part of my game that I think I am best at, so to be recognised by the coaches across the league for this is really pleasing. Making the all first team also something that was a goal of mine, so to achieve that is great. Our first season in the WEABL has been great. We are a young team. All in our first year so to make the semi-final and win the u17’s competition is brilliant."
Joining Esther on the 1st Team is Cameron Taylor-Willis, who played her second year of WEABL basketball despite still only being in Year 11. The talented forward's influence was demonstrated when she missed a period of time leading up to the playoffs due to a broken foot, and her spot on the All-WEABL 1st Team at the age of 15/16 demonstrates her potential, with two years of WEABL competition still to come from CTW and averages of 15.1ppg,11.5rpg to build upon. Ella Pearson, another U17 player with GB experience (U16s) was named to the All-WEABL South 2nd Team, with averages of 7.4ppg, 8.4rpg, 3.1spg and regularly being given the assignment of defending the lead guard on the opposing team. Despite being seen as more of a defensive player in the early part of the year, Ella has improved massively as the season has gone on, leading to highlight scoring performances against Myerscough in the Elite 8 (21 points) and CoLA.
Cameron Taylor-Willis: "It came as a bit of a shock to be named to the all first team, I wasn’t expecting it as I’m still in year eleven. There are some great players in this league so to be recognised as one of the best is amazing."
Ella Pearson: "I’m really flattered to be named to the WEABL All Second Team, it’s been a great first year at the academy for me personally and for the whole team. Hopefully we can build on it for next year."
The six winners from this year join a prestigious list of past award winners representing Ipswich Basketball Academy, many of whom are currently in America playing NCAA basketball. Perhaps the most significant part of the achievement of these players is that every player mentioned above and below has come through the Ipswich Basketball Club programme, demonstrating the level of talent in Suffolk and the work that the players, staff and volunteers put in.
Complete Ipswich Basketball Academy Award History
Most Valuable Player - Ethan Price
Defensive Player of the Year - Ethan Price
All EABL South 1st Team - Ethan Price
All EABL South 2nd Team - Ben Winter, Veron Eze
Defensive Player of the Year - Esther Little
All-WEABL South 1st Team - Esther Little, Cameron Taylor-Willis
All-WEABL South 2nd Team - Ella Pearson
All EABL East 1st Team - Jonny Hall
All WEABL 1st Team - Maya Price
All WEABL 3rd Team - Ashleigh Pink
All EABL East 1st Team - Caleb Fuller
All WEABL 1st Team - Ashleigh Pink
All EABL East 2nd Team - Caleb Fuller, Josh Apple
All WEABL 1st Team - Harriet Welham, Ashleigh Pink
Most Valuable Player - Sam Newman
All EABL South 1st Team - Sam Newman, Luke Mascall-Wright
All EABL 1st Team - Luke Mascall-Wright
All EABL South-East 1st Team - Luke Mascall-Wright, Sam Newman
South East Coach of the Year - Nick Drane