The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

April 6, 2014

ENE's All-Northwest Boys Basketball Team

DRUMMOND, Okla. — It wasn’t a basketball game, but there was a court, packed home bleachers and an in-unison chant to make the atmosphere pretty close: “Brady-Brady-Brady!”

That Brady, Drummond’s Brady Kokojan, the subject of the occasion, a signing ceremony to make the senior’s commitment to play baseball for Redlands Community College official, modest as usual, all gee-whiz and grins despite his momentary stardom.

He was required to wait in the hallway outside Drummond’s basketball court, holding for final preparations and making small talk with the teacher-turned-security guard keeping him there, seemingly wondering something like, “All this, for me?”

Yep, all of it. Coaches, administrators, random students — most of whom seemed to be there for reasons beyond skipping 20 minutes of class — a cake and a camera, or two, or three, or four: a sizeable slice of Drummond’s 455 residents made the trip.

Even Pond Creek-Hunter’s Zach Rayner, who beat Kokojan three of four times on the court in 2013-14 but was edged out in the All-Northwest POY voting, is a Kokojan fan.

How does that happen? What’s the secret?

“Leave a good impression,” Kokojan said.  “You never know who’s watching you.”

Mission accomplished, it seems. His hometown, his coaches, even his opponents — everyone seems to love Brady Kokojan.

You can add another group to that list.

Area coaches have voted Kokojan, Drummond’s 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, the 2014 Enid News & Eagle All-Northwest boys basketball player of the year, the first-ever Drummond player to earn the honor.

Kokojan scored a team-best 21.7 points per game for the Bulldogs in their best season in recent memory, finishing 23-8 and a game short of a state-tournament berth. During baseball season, he led the Bulldogs with eight home runs, 57 RBI and a .486 batting average as a junior and is again at the top of 15th-ranked Drummond’s offensive ledger in 2014. When interviewed about all of that, he was fresh off pitching an agriculture business for FFA.

“He’s been great to work with,” said Drummond baseball coach Jared Swart. “He’s just really committed to what he’s doing. Baseball, basketball, FFA, on his own time, after games or at practice, he’s just really committed.”

It’s paid off so far. Kokojan displayed that same commitment to every element of his game in his final basketball season. His 21.7 points per game were joined by 8.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.3 steals. Kokojan finished with 2,187 career points, three of which have stuck with the senior.

Down 59-57 with under 10 seconds left in the semifinal of the Northwestern Prep Classic at Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva, Drummond forward Logan Jantz took an inbounds pass and drove to his right. Kokojan’s defender bolted to help against Jantz, just in time for Drummond’s leading scorer to curl open well past the collegiate three-point line at NWOSU’s Percefull Fieldhouse.

“I just happened to yell at him,” Kokojan said. “I just took one dribble and let her fly.”

Kokojan’s near-NBA-depth three was perfect. Ball game, 60-59.

“Gives me chills watching it back again,” he continued. “I watch it when I’m not feeling good sometimes. Cheers me right back up.”

Moments like that made Kokojan’s decision, the one that will have the senior playing baseball at Redlands and potentially at a four-year school thereafter if he gets his way instead of basketball anywhere, one of the hardest ones he’s made.

“You just thank them for what they gave,” said Drummond head basketball coach Curtis Foster. “At some point, you gotta reload. You can’t keep them forever.”

So he’s passed just about every test — no, really, he’s a 4.0 student and a likely valedictorian, too — but he’ll have to do the next one without all that adoration at his back. At least at first.

“There’s nothing like playing basketball in Drummond,” Kokojan said. “I’m gonna miss seeing my family come and watch me play. Every game I have at least seven or eight family members in the stands at all times. I’m gonna miss that … The fans were really supportive this year, more than they ever have been, but I think I can handle going and playing (at Redlands). They’ve helped grow me up enough to handle it.”

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Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at http://enidnews.smugmug.com.