Last call: County’s top player ready for life beyond basketball

For four years, Michael Valle gave “100 percent every day” to the Whiteland boys basketball program, coach Matt Wadsworth said.

Now, Valle is ready to direct his energy elsewhere.

Though there were no shortage of college teams interested in his services, the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year says he doesn’t feel like playing anymore.

That wasn’t completely surprising to Wadsworth.

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“He has the ability,” the coach said, “but on the other hand, that fits his personality. Mike is ready to get out and explore things outside of basketball.”

Valle will begin exploring at the University of Maine, where he plans to pursue a degree in some science-related field.

On the court, the 6-foot-7 senior presented a matchup nightmare for most opponents with his ability to play all five positions — Valle was too quick for most post players his size to keep up with on the perimeter and too big for wings to cover down low.

“I have pretty good ballhandling and quickness for how tall I am,” he said. “People don’t really think I can do that kind of stuff, and I worked on it. Most big guys can’t really defend outside the lane … and if they put a guard on me I just posted up and used my size.”

That combination worked well. Valle averaged a team-best 18.7 points as a senior, and he also paced Whiteland in rebounds (6.5 per game), assists (60) and steals (35).

He also relished the big moments, displaying an intensity in the gym that belies his otherwise laid-back demeanor.

“Late in the game, Mike wanted the basketball in his hands,” Wadsworth said.

As a result, Whiteland’s program has reached new heights. The Warriors posted consecutive winning seasons for the first time, collecting 32 victories over the last two years, and they claimed back-to-back Johnson County titles after going 61 years without one.

Though he seems perfectly content leaving the game behind, Valle says there is one part of the high school basketball experience that he will carry with him.

“Friday nights, fans, the little kids that kind of looked up to me and said that I was their favorite player,” he said. “That’ll be something I’ll miss.”

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Michael Valle’s career statistics at Whiteland:

Year;PPG;RPG;Assists;Steals;Blocks

2013-14;4.0;2.9;40;20;15

2014-15;11.4;3.9;55;14;20

2015-16;11.5;4.5;44;25;23

2016-17;18.7;6.5;60;35;21

All-County team

The 2016-17 All-Johnson County team for boys basketball:

Tim Abel, Indian Creek senior: Led the Braves to a third straight 15-win season, scoring 18 points per game and adding 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. … An honorable mention All-State pick who shot 47 percent (63 for 134) on 3-pointers and 88 percent (47 of 59) from the free throw line.

Aaron Gross, Whiteland senior: Was a versatile force for the Warriors, particularly during championship run in Johnson County tournament. … Averaged 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds while blocking a team-best 41 shots and shooting 54 of 128 (42 percent) from 3-point range.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Center Grove sophomore: Continued to grow into a dominating post presence, leading the Trojans in scoring (12.4 ppg), rebounding (9.0 rpg) and blocked shots (93). … Was named to Underclass Supreme 15 All-State team and is beginning to attract major Division I interest.

Travis Roehling, Center Grove senior: A multifaceted threat who could get to the basket at will but also hit from outside (41.7 percent on 3-pointers). … Averaged 11.5 points and 3.7 rebounds and ranked second on the team in assists (47) and steals (22) … Planning to attend the University of Indianapolis.

Michael Valle, Whiteland senior: Led the two-time Johnson County champion Warriors in scoring (18.7 ppg), rebounds (6.5 rpg), assists (60) and steals (35). … Capable of affecting a game in the post as well as pulling opposing centers away from the basket. … An honorable mention All-State selection.

Honorable mention

Parker Bryant, Edinburgh; Tyler Craft, Franklin; Jared DeHart, Indian Creek; Hunter Gross, Franklin; Coltan Henderson, Edinburgh; Bryce Hogue, Indian Creek; Braydon Kincaid, Greenwood; Payton Modlin, GCA; Eric Moenkhaus, Greenwood; Brennan Neal, Whiteland; Spencer Piercefield, Center Grove; Jeffrey Reynolds, Greenwood; Cory Richards, Franklin; Jacob Rockey, Franklin

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.