Dating to the mid-1990s, only three juniors had claimed Section 1 basketball’s top award. If the latest “Mr. Basketball” to follow in their footsteps continues along the same path, Eric Paschall has some future ahead of him.
The Dobbs Ferry junior joined Peekskill’s Elton Brand and Mount Vernon’s Ben Gordon and Jabarie Hinds as the only non-seniors to claim the section’s top honor since 1996. Paschall was among those honored Sunday by the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association, which met to select the area’s top players.
“It feels great,” Paschall said. “I also helped my team to a winning record and go on a seven-game winning streak. We’re doing well now going into the playoffs. This award just tops it off.”
Paschall, a 6-foot-6 swingman, currently leads the section in scoring at 25.3 points per game. He has also averaged 10.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 blocks per game for the Eagles (12-6), who suffered two of their losses in December with Paschall out of the lineup.
In addition to joining Brand and Gordon, who both play in the NBA, and Hinds, a sophomore at West Virginia who is in his second season as a starter there, Paschall ended Mount Vernon High School’s hold on the award. The Knights had produced the last seven “Mr. Basketball” winners.
New Rochelle’s Geoff McDermott was the last recipient from another school when he won in 2005.
Paschall has received eight Division I offers — from West Virginia, Northwestern, George Mason, Providence, Iona, Radford, Fordham and Quinnipiac — and heightened interest from Iowa, VCU, Penn State and Fairfield.
“I accomplished a lot this year,” Paschall said. “It was very surprising that I actually won.”
Five seniors joined Paschall as first-team all-Lower Hudson picks: New Rochelle’s Joe Clarke; Somers’ John Decker; Mount Vernon’s Josh Doughty; Mahopac’s Brendan Hynes; and Albertus Magnus’ Jack Sullivan.
The top coaching honor went to Eastchester’s Fred DiCarlo, who was named the Lower Hudson Coach of the Year. With DiCarlo stressing a faster tempo and shuffling a dozen or more players, his Eagles finished the regular season 17-1 despite the graduation of 1,000-point scorer Dave Solano.
It is their best record in his 16 seasons as head coach.
“It’s all a credit to the team and the athletes I have on it,” said DiCarlo, whose team won its first league title since 2008. “It’s a fun way to play, to play up and down and be fast. I think it brings out the best in our team.”
The award winners will be honored on March 19 at the DoubleTree Tarrytown at the LHBCA’s annual banquet.