AMA first time honoree, a veteran of postseason excellence and the first first-team award winner in the history of his high school make this year’s Eastern Jackson County area all-state players distinct.
Sophomore guard Deon Monroe is a first-time all-state player for Truman High School.
Aiyana Johnson, the outstanding senior center from Lee’s Summit North, has now won the honor for a second year in a row.
And Jaxon Althaus is the first Oak Grove player chosen as a first-team all-state selection in the history of the Panthers’ basketball program.
They were all honored by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
“This is just a terrific honor for Deon, because we didn’t make a deep run in the playoffs and coaches from other places really didn’t get the opportunity to see her play,” Truman coach Steve Cassity said. “But the coaches around here saw her and she really made an impact on our program.
“She led the team in points (17.1), rebounds (8.5) and assists (7) per game and she’s a guard! She also led the team with just more than two steals a game. She is such a strong player that when she made her mind up to go inside, whether she was driving to the basket or going for a rebound, she was hard to stop.
“The great thing about winning an award like this as a sophomore is that she has that rare opportunity to be a three-time all-state player, and there aren’t many of those around.”
Johnson, who averaged 18.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 blocks per game for the Broncos, leaves a lasting legacy at Lee’s Summit North.
“She has been a consistent force since her freshman year,” Broncos coach Tricia Lillygren said. “No matter how teams tried to stop her – double- or triple-teaming her – she found a way to make an impact on both ends of the court. And when she could not score, she found a way to get the ball to one of her teammates, either under the basket or on the perimeter. She is one of those players who make everyone else on the court that much better.
“She has a great court sense and a high basketball IQ. She really deserves this honor and I am so proud of her.”
Althaus was a do-it-all forward for the Panthers, who saw their postseason run end in the district final at the hands of Raytown South, a team that lost the Class 4 state championship game to Grandview.
“To my knowledge he is the first all-state player at our high school,” Oak Grove coach Ty Hames said. “We had a great player named Mike Munson back in the 1970s, who was all-state honorable mention, but Jaxon is the first player to be named to the first team.
“To be able to reach this accolade and be honored by the coaches in our state shows what he was able to do on the court. He definitely deserved it, but it was a process of a lot of years of hard work. Hopefully he’s an inspiration to young players in our program.”
Althaus finished with 1,241 career points. Hames said his offense often overshadowed what he meant to the team defensively.
“I’ve coached 16 years and he is the first player I ever coached who could guard any player on the court one through five,” Hames said, “and believe me, he had to do it this season – oftentimes, guarding three or four different players in one game. If they had a guy with the hot hand, Jaxon was going to guard him.
“And talk about being a leader, he was our leader. When he was double- and triple-teamed, he always found a way to get the ball to one of his teammates. The only thing he cared about was winning. We’re going to miss him.”
He tied a Missouri State High School Activities Association state record by hitting 22 consecutive free throws in one game and led the Panthers in scoring (20.3), rebounds (6.5), assists (2.6) and steals (2.8) per game.