Looney Catching Fire

Becoming the first sophomore in the rich history of the Milwaukee City Conference to be named the player of the year, Milwaukee Hamilton forward Kevon Looney, who recently picked up an offer from Wisconsin, is preparing for a state title run.

MADISON - Since it started competing in the WIAA Tournament in the 1951-52 season, the Milwaukee City Conference has seen plenty of successful teams and standout players come and go. Winners of 23 state championships in the last 60 years, the conference has had notable alumni like Marcus Landry, Latrell Sprewell and Mike Wilks carry the conference's banner.

None of them, however, can claim what Milwaukee Hamilton sophomore Kevon Looney accomplished this season.

Averaging 22.5 points per game and leading his team to a fourth-place finish in the loaded conference, the 6-5 Looney was named the conference's player of the year, the first sophomore to earn that distinction in the conference's rich history.

"It means a lot to me because it was one of my goals entering the season," Looney told Badger Nation. "It feels pretty good to be able to accomplish it. I am honored to get that recognition."

A lot of credit, according to Looney, goes to his head coach. Tied for the most state title wins for a coach in Wisconsin high school basketball history, Tom Diener led Milwaukee Vincent to five state titles between 1996 and 2001, and has helped Looney transfer his skills from the run-and-gun AAU style - Looney plays against some top teams in the country with the Milwaukee Running Rebels - to the rugged style of the City Conference.

"He taught me discipline," said Looney. "He taught me to play without the ball and score from anywhere. He preached conditioning, got me stronger physically and prepared me mentally to play with the older guys."

While it was his goal to be named the conference player of the year, Looney said the amount of interest he's received from college coaches has been a surprised. It shouldn't be, considering he's ranked a four-star prospect and the sixth-best small forward in the country by Scout.com.

"I was never thinking about scholarships," said Looney. "I was just thinking about getting better and improving my play. When it happened, I was surprised."

While many schools are showing interest, Looney claims offers from Georgetown, Marquette and Wisconsin. Looney impressed the Hoyas over the summer during open gym while coaches from the Golden Eagles and the Badgers have been scouted him closer this season.

Looney got his offer from Wisconsin following the Badgers' game against Ohio State in Madison earlier this month, a game in which he attended on an unofficial visit.

"It's a pretty good relationship (with the UW coaches)," Looney said. "It's fun going there and watching games. I have a fun time down there. I like that their fans love their team. Every time I go, the place is sold out and the fans seem like they have a lot of fun at the games. The team plays really well."

Looney has no timetable for his decision and no visits scheduled. The only thing he's focused on is what's on his plate at Hamilton.

"I haven't started paying attention to where I want to go," said Looney. "I am just focused on school and the playoffs. I am really excited to play in the playoffs and am going to try to take it one game at a time. It'd be nice to have an opportunity to get to state."

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