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2023 Sun Standout Awards

Steve Marcus

Chuck Johnson, general manager of the Las Vegas Aviators, and mascot Spruce the Goose, pose with Male Athlete of the Year Dedan Thomas Jr. of Liberty High School during the 2023 Sun Standout Awards at the South Point Showroom Monday, May 22, 2023. The Aviators sponsored the Male Athlete of the Year award.

After he piloted Liberty to a historic state championship last year, expectations were set sky high for Dedan Thomas Jr.’s junior season this year. He delivered.

Thomas upped his scoring average by nearly 10 points per game, using his quickness, handle and electric finishing ability to pour in an average of 22.8 points per game, with an efficient 46.8% field goal percentage. The 6-foot-1 guard also dished out 5.1 assists and tallied 1.2 steals per contest, helping him earn Gatorade State Player of the Year honors.

Some of the highlights? Thomas went for 24 points in an overtime win over Coronado, 26 in a victory over Bishop Gorman and 27 in a win over Foothill.

Thomas said the Gatorade award was a crowning achievement for his prep career. “Winning that was one of my goals coming into high school,” he said.

Thomas’ on-court impact went well beyond his numbers, as he once again guided the Patriots to a deep run in the state tournament. He averaged 25.7 points in the playoffs, leading Liberty back to the state final, where the squad fell short against Durango despite Thomas’ 21 points.

Thomas said he’s proud of the way he and his teammates defended their title all the way to the end. “Everyone came after us,” he said. “We got everyone’s best game.”

Following the conclusion of the season, Thomas committed to UNLV, where his father played from 1991 to 1994.

Finalists:

• Micah Alejado, Bishop Gorman football and bowling: Threw for 3,575 yards and 54 touchdowns as the quarterback of a state championship football team that ranked in the top five nationally and rolled a perfect score of 300 in bowling.

• Noah Barrus, Shadow Ridge volleyball: Led the Mustangs to the state championship with astronomical averages of 10.4 assists and 5.5 digs per set.

• Jordan Evans, Palo Verde swimming: Won two gold medals at the state meet as a junior, and is expected to add more championships at this year’s state championship as a senior.

• Quentin Gomez, Palo Verde soccer: Honored with 5A Player of the Year honors through stalwart defense, helping to make the Panthers perhaps the hardest team to score upon in town. 

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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