In an age where basketball players often focus on being the best 3-point shooter or the best inside presence they can be, Hollidaysburg Area High School's Jordan Swauger was concerned with just one thing.
Being the best. Period.
Going against the prevailing grain by building his game from the mid-range areas, Swauger developed into a deadly scorer anywhere on the court and accomplished his task by being voted the Altoona Mirror's 2010-11 High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year by the newspaper's staff and correspondents as well as the area's coaches.
Swauger prevailed in a close vote over Huntingdon Area's dynamic big man, Jeremy Posey, and Central Cambria's electrifying guard, Zach Vigneault. Bellwood-Antis' Noah Davis and Glendale's Tyler Jenny joined them to complete the first team.
Coach of the Year honors went to Northern Cambria's Dan Weber, with Bishop Carroll's Cosie Aliquo, Hollidaysburg's Mick Pentoney and Bellwood's Brent Gerwert not far behind.
"I began watching basketball from an early age, and I always tried to pattern my game after the best,'' Swauger said. "I watched film of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and all of them, and I just tried to take something out of their game and put it into my game to try to increase my repertoire.''
Swauger said he first picked up a basketball when he was 4, and, by now, his skills have taken on a keen edge. The 6-foot-3 guard's 19.3-point scoring average paced the Golden Tigers, and he also pulled down 4.7 rebounds per game, 2.9 of those coming on the offensive end. He came up with 1.8 steals per game, as well.
What is really impressive is, though, his 53.7 shooting percentage and his 50.9 percent accuracy from 3-point range. Because of Swauger's size and strength, it was difficult enough to guard him, but his ability to elevate and release shots with almost ideal form made him nearly impossible to stop once he got the ball. If fouled, he converted 84.4 percent at the free throw line.
"When you have talent and like to do something, you tend to do pretty well,'' Pentoney said. "Jordan understood that, if you can shoot the 3, the next step is to shot fake and go by people. But very few guys can make it to the rim and finish at the next level. But, if you can shot fake, get by people and pull up and be pretty deadly, that makes you tough, and he worked on that.''
After winning the District 6 Class AAAA championship his junior year, Swauger keyed the Tigers' run to a 19-2 regular season before being upset in the district semifinals this time around. He's far from done though - Duquesne, Wichita State, Alabama and a slew of mid- and smaller major colleges all over the east have asked him to come play for them.
"I've accomplished what I wanted in high school,'' Swauger said. "But I want to go to the next level and accomplish more things, because I'm never satisfied. There's always something that irritates me that I can't be satisfied.''
Weber, in his eighth year, took a Colts team with one returning starter and just three lettermen to it first district championship game in 10 years and back to the state playoffs, where NC won its first state game since 1965.
The Colts finished 18-10.