Even before he entered high school, impossible expectations were thrust upon Matt Carlino. Two years later, he’s somehow lived up to them. Carlino entered his freshman year at Gilbert Highland already a household name in basketball circles, and the first year had its ups and downs.
On the one hand, Carlino became a starting point guard and led his team to the No. 1 seed in the 5A-I state tournament.
On the other, he wasn’t prepared for the day-in, day-out rigors of varsity basketball, and the Hawks ended up falling in the first round of the tournament.
Carlino learned from it, and stayed hungry. This season, still just a sophomore, Carlino finished the year averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists and led Highland to the 5A-I title game, earning him the honor of All-Tribune’s boys basketball player of the year.
And he’s not close to finished. Ultimately, Carlino wants to play in the NBA.
“My goals are very high,” he said. “I’m a dreamer.”
His coach and father, Mark Carlino, estimates that Matt shoots between 500 and 1,000 jump shots a day.
It was something he couldn’t do toward the end of the season, when a hip pointer severely limited Carlino’s practice time.
Carlino said he felt the best heading into the championship game against Phoenix St. Mary’s. That was well and good for about 10 minutes, until a collision left Carlino with a broken nose and a mild concussion.
He finished the game, but wasn’t the same player, and actually missed an entire week of school after surgery to fix his nose.
Carlino recently got fitted for a mask so he can play basketball again.
You’d think he would enjoy the break after nonstop action for years. But you’d be wrong.
“Last year, the day after we lost I was right back at it,” Carlino said. “It’s hard to get burnt out when you’re always having fun.”
2008-09 All-Tribune boys basketball team
|Matt Carlino||Highland||G||So.||Averaged 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists|
|Donte Medder||Mesa||G||Sr.||Tulsa-bound guard averaged 22.6 points, 4.8 assists|
|Jahii Carson||Mountain Pointe||G||So.||Scoring machine averaged 27.3 points, scored 40 or more 4 times|
|Demetrius Walker||St. Mary’s||G||Sr.||Best player on best team in state; headed to ASU|
|Eric Hunt||Mountain View||F||Sr.||E.V. Region player of year; solid defensive presence in the middle|
|Nuno Muandumba||Pinnacle||G||Sr.||Top-flight PG averaged 20.9 points, 7.1 assists and 2.2 steals|
|Nick Johnson||Highland||G||So.||Lockdown defender and all-around athlete|
|Devonte Thornburg||McClintock||F||Sr.||Double-double machine and blocked 4.8 shots per game|
|Elliot Clark||Gilbert||G||Sr.||Tigers’ fortunes often rested on play of sharpshooter|
|Jason Edwards||Chandler||G||Sr.||Catalyst for Chandler’s frenetic style of play; staunch defender|
Player of the Year: Matt Carlino, Highland
Coach of the Year: Jay Caserio, Gilbert: Team overcame injuries and a 5-9 regular-season finish to win two state tournament road games as a No. 13 seed and reach first state semifinals since 2003.
Honorable mention: Arcadia: Zach Jones, Sr., F; David Carroll, Sr., F. Basha: Nick Markovich, Sr., G; Tyler Miller, Sr., F. Cactus Shadows: Elijah Knox, Sr., G. Chandler: Devirous Johnson, Jr., F. Chaparral: Gus Gabel, Sr., F; Zeke Chapman, So., G. Corona del Sol: Leland Devlin, Sr., G; Andrew Fox, Sr., G. Desert Mountain: Danny Maman, Sr., G; Danny Franz, Sr., F. Desert Ridge: L.C. Williams, Jr., G. Desert Vista: Garret Lever, Sr., G. Dobson: John Bailey, Jr., F. Gilbert: Shawn King, Sr., F. Hamilton: Micah Fetters, Jr., G. Highland: Chris Johnson, Sr., F; K.C. Toolson, Sr., F. Higley: Kelvin Fisher, So., G. Horizon: Stephen Topercer, So., G; Collin Woods, So., G. Marcos de Niza: Justin Rodriguez, Jr., F; Ramon Abreu, Jr., G. McClintock: Derek Owens, Sr., G. Mesquite: Christian Bower, Jr., G; Isaiah Strong, Jr., G. Mountain View: Charlie Meo, Sr., G. Notre Dame: Sean Orlando, Sr., G. Paradise Valley: Rich Vasquez, Sr., G; Naheer Mirza, Jr., G. Perry: Chase Richardson, So., G; Mansel Simmons, So., F. Pinnacle: Nathan Murdock, Jr., G. Queen Creek: Luke Miller, Jr., G; Zane Garcia, Sr., G. Red Mountain: Chris Lewis, Sr., G; Paul Newendyke, Jr., G. Saguaro: Steven Morin, Sr., F; Jack Connors, So., G. Seton: Thomas Harty, Sr., G; Ryan Mahoney, Jr., G; Andrew Blauvelt, Jr., G. Skyline: Jake Pitcher, Jr., F. St. Mary’s: Blake Davis, Sr., G; Byron Fulton, Sr., F. Tempe: Jordan Baker, So., F.; Marcell McClian, Jr., G. Williams Field: Austin Moyers, Jr., F.