Brad Wallace is asked all the time what his best sport is, but even he doesn’t know.
His favorite sport? That’s easy.
“It all depends on what season,” Wallace said.
Wallace, The Olympian’s All-Area boys basketball Player of the Year for the second straight year, is a rare breed. In times when teenage athletes often put their focus and future into one sport, Wallace excels in three – football, basketball and baseball – for River Ridge High School.
Golf might be the only sport he lacks talent in.
“I’m not very good,” he said.
Since his freshman year, Wallace has earned all-league honors in all three sports, including being a three-time league MVP in basketball. That’s 11 all-league honors heading into this spring’s baseball season, where he’s a starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. Being a 12-time letter-winner is rare enough, but Wallace has the potential to do something truly remarkable – be a 12-time letter-winner and a 12-time all-league honoree.
Wallace, a 5-foot-11 guard, has never had a better basketball season. He’s averaging 28 points a game in helping the Hawks recover from a slow start under new coach John Barbee. This season, he has scored 30 or more points 10 times –
including a career-high 44 against Capital in December.
Barbee said he hasn’t met anyone who isn’t impressed with Wallace’s game.
“He plays with so much savvy,” Barbee said. “What makes him special is he has that motor that never quits. He’s the best high school player I’ve ever coached.”
Wallace has done it with speed, accurate shooting and the ability to finish at the rim. And he’s done it when it counts. In the 2A District IV title game last week, he scored 24 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made four steals in the Hawks’ 50-47 victory over Mark Morris.
Monarchs coach Bill Bakamus, who has faced Wallace three times in four years in district title games, has seen Wallace at his best.
“Bradley,” Bakamus told Wallace in a friendly manner following the latest district title game, “I hope we never have to play you again.”
It’s not just Bakamus’ team that has been bedeviled by Wallace and his River Ridge teammates. Despite having their five-year reign as league champions ended by W.F. West, the Hawks continued their District IV dominance by winning the title for the fifth straight year and extending their district winning streak to 15 games.
It’s been quite a turnaround since Dec. 18, when the River Ridge slipped to 3-6 after an 87-80 loss to Centralia. The Hawks (17-6) have since won 14 straight games going into Saturday’s 2A regional game against No. 2-ranked Renton (22-2). Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Tumwater High School. The winner heads to the 2A state tournament in Yakima.
It’s the team’s winning streak, not his individual stats, that really stand out for Wallace.
“It took a bit to get used to each other,” Wallace said. “We picked up on coach’s techniques a lot, and we’ve been playing really good as a team.”
As far as playing in college, Wallace has narrowed his choice of sports to either football or basketball. But that’s a decision he won’t have to make until the spring.
“It’s a work in progress,” Wallace said.
THE OLYMPIAN'S ALL-AREA BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
G Brad WallaceseniorRiver Ridge
Wallace, The Olympian’s two-time All-Area Player of the Year, has carried the Hawks on his shoulders this season, averaging 28 points a game. Already the school’s career scoring leader, he’s quickly approaching 700 points this season. His all-around play helped River Ridge win its fifth straight district title and earn a 2A regional berth.
W Donaven DorseyjuniorTimberline
Playing in front of scouts and NCAA Division I coaches every game, the Blazers’ soon-to-be top recruit had a breakout campaign, helping the program to its best season since 2004. He averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, two steals and four assists a game.
G/F Brock Wadesenior W.F. West
Wade’s size regularly created mismatches on the perimeter. A focal point of the Bearcats’ offense, Wade averaged 20.3 points a game for the 2A Evergreen Conference regular-season champions.
G Keenan WilliamsseniorCapital
Need a 3-pointer or a clutch shot? Williams is your guy. The Cougars’ 3-point specialist scored in different ways and in clutch situations for the 2A EvCo runners-up, and even hit six first-quarter 3s in a non-league game against Olympia.
G Devante Harris senior Tenino
The 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen’s MVP, despite playing with an ankle injury most of the season, was a big reason the Beavers won the league title. He averaged 17.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 steals a game. He surpassed 1,000 career points in December.
Coach of the year
Allen Thomas, Timberline
As the Blazers prepare for their upcoming 3A regional game, this is the furthest a Timberline team has gone in the playoffs since 2004, when Thomas was in his first season as head coach.
Michael Naipo, senior, Olympia
Elijah Sanders, senior, Timberline
Brendan Leonard, senior, Olympia
Jared Eidenmuller, senior, Capital
David Cooper, sophomore, TumwaterMeg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick