CHARLESTON - Jon Elmore returned to West Virginia and did not win a state championship, but his ability to lead a depleted George Washington High School team back to the Class AAA state tournament went a long way in claiming the Evans Award for the Patriot senior.
The award, given each year by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association to the state's top player, was won by Elmore in a landslide. In fact, second-place finisher Brandon Knapper of South Charleston finished with fewer than half of Elmore's total votes.
"I don't think there's been a kid (to) prove himself quite on the level of Jon this year," George Washington coach Rick Greene said. "He's so much more than a scorer. He knows the game so well, and knows how every team is going to try to stop him and time and time again finds a way to beat it.
"He thinks about these things ahead of time. He goes into every game knowing what he's going to have to accomplish in order for us to win," Greene said.
Elmore finished the season averaging 31.4 points per game, the state's highest scoring average since 2011. That year, Ripley senior and current Brigham Young University guard Chase Fischer averaged 32.1 points and also won the Evans Award.
Elmore broke Eddy's school single-season scoring record established one year ago by scoring 815 points in 26 games.
Along with the addition of Elmore's name to the list of Evans Award winner comes another slice of Mountain State hoops history. Elmore's father, Gay Elmore, won the Evans Award while a senior at South Charleston High School in 1982. The duo is the only father-son combination to each win high school basketball's highest individual honor in West Virginia.
"That makes it even better, to me," said Greene, whose own father still regularly attends games featuring the GW boys and South Charleston girls -who are coached by Rick Greene's brother, Gary Greene - although he is confined to a wheelchair.
"To have that kind of connection between father and son is something you don't see happen too often," Green said of the Elmore's awards.
Like his father, Jon Elmore will play college basketball at Virginia Military Institute. His older brother, South Charleston graduate Ot Elmore, will enter his sophomore season with the Keydets in the fall after he spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy following his 2012 high school graduation. Gay Elmore is the second-leading scorer in VMI history and owns the school record for the mostgames scoring 20 or more points, with 68 such performances.
The Evans Award was first bestowed upon the state's top player by the WVSWA in 1970.
The elder Elmore's still-standing record at VMI appears vividly familiar when Jon Elmore's 2014 season is reviewed closely. He scored 30 or more points in 12 of the Patriots' 26 games. His run through the postseason served as the exclamation point to the award-winning season.
The hot streak began with a 45-point explosion in an 83-65 win over rival Capital in a Region 3, Section 1 semifinal on March 5. Elmore had five points at halftime then exploded for 40 in the second half, including 12 buckets from 3-point range.
He added 28 points in a 63-56 loss to South Charleston that many believed doomed GW, as it was then forced to travel to Beckley to face Section 2 champion Woodrow Wilson at the Raleigh County Convention Center.
In Beckley, Elmore scored 34 as GW beat Woodrow 63-59 in overtime. Although Elmore scored 40 points against Huntington at the state tournament, to Greene, it was the win over Woodrow Wilson that was the most representative of what Elmore brought to the Patriots.
"You don't go beat Beckley in Beckley in a regional final with a one-man show," Greene said. "What he did was make everybody better. That's the kind of player you want as your player of the year."
Elmore will be honored with the award at the Victory Awards Dinner May 4 at the Charleston Civic Center.