A whirlwind of a season ended in triumph for Desert Vista head basketball coach Gino Crump as he led the Thunder program to its first state championship since 2008.
On Wednesday, he was recognized for his accomplishments this past season as he was named the 2019-20 6A Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
“With the season we had and with everything I went through, it’s surreal,” Crump said. “It was a season that I just, I can’t believe it happened. I’m speechless. I can’t believe it.”
Crump was also named 6A Central Region Coach of the Year last week along with several other members of Desert Vista boys basketball program who received recognition.
Osasere Ighodaro, the only senior on the Thunder roster and Marquette signee, was named the 6A Central Region Player of the Year and Wednesday, followed it up with recognition as the Conference Player of the Year. Ighodaro’s recognition came after a season in which he averaged 15.9 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game.
He also received first-team all-conference honors alongside sophomore guard Dasean Lecque, who helped Desert Vista capture the state title in his first season since transferring from New York. Lecque averaged a team-high 18.4 points per game in his first season with the Thunder.
Lecque was also named first-team all-region, while guards Marcus Wady and Andrew King received second-team honors. King and sophomore forward Will Coates have since transferred to Phoenix Prep. Malik Mack and Tayan Thompson were also both recognized as honorable mentions.
“I knew we had a good group of kids that play the right way,” Crump said. “I have a whole group of kids that know they are talented enough to start on most teams in the state. Sometimes it can be difficult coaching that much talent on one team, but they all bought in.”
Desert Vista was met with adversity near the midway point of the season, as Crump was recommended for termination following his role in attempting to prevent a postgame altercation between a player and members of the St. Mary’s student section following a heated overtime win for the Thunder. He was forced to stay away from his team for six games, in which the Desert Vista went 5-1 under the direction of interim head coach Mike Smith.
Crump was reinstated as head coach on Jan. 8 following an emergency meeting with Tempe Union High School District officials. His reinstatement came just over a week after a judge dismissed a restraining order filed by a Desert Vista parent against him.
With a feeling of “vindication” following his reinstatement, Crump vowed to do what he could to lead his team to a state-championship win. On Tuesday, March 3 the Thunder beat rival Mountain Pointe in an all-Ahwatukee championship.
“We won a championship, I almost got fired and now I get coach of the year. It’s unbelievable,” Crump said. “Being vigilant, being faithful and doing everything for the right reasons, it all worked out in the end. That’s how I look at it.”
To the surprise of many, none of Mountain Pointe’s players received all-conference recognition despite playing for the state title for the second time in three years.
Junior guard Jason Kimbrough and forward Zereoue Williams received second-team all-region honors, while freshman guard Mark Brown and sophomore guard Anthony Jamarillo were honorable mentions.