Jesse Hall had already proved himself as the area’s top talent during the 2018-19 season.
Only this year, he had to step into Crawfordsville’s go-to-guy role, instead of just the No. 1 scoring option. He had to take on a more leadership role. Prove to people that the Athenians’ 18-7 record during his sophomore season wasn’t a fluke.
Hall steadied his output with 15.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, improving the Athenians’ scoring average and helping Crawfordsville to a 13-11 record — their third winning season in the last four years.
Those stats and accolades have earned Hall a repeat as the Journal Review Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
With only Hall and his senior teammate in Karsten Williamson returning as starters for Crawfordsville, the junior turned to the gym last summer.
“Jesse is a gym rat that loves the game of basketball,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “Not only did he work on his game individually and with our team, but he also played AAU to better himself.”
On the court Hall took over as an aggressor, taking 254 shots and connecting on 132 of them for a 52% clip.
“This year I was more aggressive and tried to make things happen instead of letting the game come to me,” he said.
That included 25 made 3-pointers.
“Jesse improved his outside shooting and post game,” Pierce said. “Jesse made it very difficult to guard, and created mismatches that teams dread. He could hit the 3 from outside, but could also go inside against smaller players.”
And for a second straight season, Hall stepped up in the big moments.
“When we need to go on a run or make a comeback I feel like that challenge drives me to want to take it to another level,” he said. “Also when something exciting happens like a dunk or a tough shot goes in and hearing the crowd cheer makes me want to go even harder.”
Crawfordsville posted an 8-6 record on its home floor this season.
As other vocal leaders emerged for the Athenians, Hall begin to flourish by leading by example. His teammates looked up to him as the teams’ best player, and they followed. Pierce hopes to continue to see him grow in that area.
“Jesse definitely stepped-up this year trying to be one of our leaders,” he said. “In practice, locker room, and in huddles Jesse pushed himself to speak up and try to make his teammates better. He still has a lot of growth in this area, but he made huge strides going in the right direction.”
Hall has one more year left as an Athenian. One more shot to win a sectional title. One more shot to be the best.
“I just want to be successful and be the best,” he said. “I want to be someone that the young guys can look up to and learn from so just having that in the back of my head pushes me to be better.”
And Pierce can’t wait to see what is in store for the area’s best player.
“Jesse is the player that everyone loves to play with (talented, fun, smart, and can do things that only a few people can do,)” he said. “There is a reason that the conference coaches have voted him as one of the top three players for the last two years. Jesse is a very special player that continues to get better and better. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for him and his teammates.”
Journal Review All-Area
Jesse Hall — Crawfordsville
Karsten Williamson — Crawfordsville
Andrew Shabi — Fountain Central
Alex Wallace — North Montgomery
Austin Bowman — Southmont
Jaron Bradford — North Montgomery
Preston Shaw — North Montgomery
Carson Chadd — Southmont
Logan Oppy — Southmont
Avery Saunders — Southmont