Ko Wins Coveted Gatorade Hawaii Boys Basketball Honors

The afterglow from Kalaheo’s boys state title this winter lingered last week with the announcement of Josh Ko as 2012-13 Gatorade Hawaii Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

The award, which recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the court, distinguishes Ko as Hawaii’s best and makes him an automatic finalist for Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award.

A 6-foot-1, 150-pound senior guard, he averaged 11.9 points, 4.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, shooting 58 percent from the field, 49 percent from 3-point range and 70 percent from the free throw line. In Kalaheo’s 60-54 win over Maryknoll in the Division I state title game, Ko totaled 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting and added 3 assists, capturing the tour-nament’s Most Outstanding Player honors for the second straight year. Ko led Kalaheo to the 2012 DII state championship as a junior.

“His growth from junior to senior year impressed me most,” said Nathan Davis, head coach of rival Kalani High. “As a junior, he was more of a spot-up shooter with great range, but as a senior he became a steady ball-handler capable of bringing the ball up against pressure. He also was able to create his own shot off the dribble, which prevented defenses from crowding him or simply chasing him off the 3-point line. Against zones, he also played the role of high-post facilitator, passing and shooting from the elbow. Defensively, he played with more passion and swagger, the way a three-year starter would.”

Ko maintained a 3.57 grade-point average in the classroom. Besides donating his time as a youth basketball instructor, he helped raise funds for his school’s athletic program via multiple Windward clean-up efforts and as a motivational speaker to middle school students.

His selection marks the fourth time a Mustang was picked for that honor. Current head coach Alika Smith won it in 1993 and 1994 while playing for his father, the late Pete Smith. Greg Miller (’95) and Skyler Wilson (’01) also won it as Mustangs.

Ko joins an elite group of past Gatorade award winners: Dwight Howard (SW Atlanta Christian Academy, Ga.), Chauncey Billups (George Washington High, Colo.), Jason Kidd (St. Joseph Notre Dame High, Calif.), Paul Pierce (Inglewood High, Calif.) and Chris Bosh (Lincoln High, Texas).