Eventually, Kevin Wagner will be able to look back at the 2010-11 basketball season and smile.
A month later, he’s still struggling with top-ranked Estacado’s upset in the postseason, which denied the Matadors a shot at defending its Class 3A state championship from the year before.
“I enjoyed my teammates,” Wagner said, “but it didn’t end the way we wanted to. You can’t overlook anybody.”
The 5-foot-9 senior guard leaves Estacado as one of the best basketball players — and possibly one of the best athletes, period — to come through Lubbock. His quickness on the perimeter and leaping ability helped make him an attractive Division I prospect as far back as his sophomore season.
It’s also made him the two-time Avalanche-Journal Boys Basketball City Player of the Year.
Wagner was one of the top scorers in the area, averaging 16.8 points per game. He also averaged 3.6 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per night.
Even though the Mats fell short of a return trip to Austin, there were plenty of highlights. Estacado went undefeated in District 2-3A, spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the state in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, and broke into the ESPN Rise Powerade Fab 50 poll, where it rose as high as No. 23 before losing in the regional semifinals to Burkburnett.
Along the way, the Matadors captured their first Caprock Tournament title since 2006.
But then came the uncertainty with Wagner’s future. Texas Tech coach Pat Knight was fired in March and former Kentucky and Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie was named the new coach two weeks ago. At the time, Gillispie touted the recruitment of taller, athletic players, but at the same time indicated Wagner would be a key component next year no matter his size.
“It shocked me at first,” Wagner said of the changeover. “But it’s just business. It is what it is.”
Wagner said he never wavered in his commitment to his hometown team.
“The five or six times I’ve talked to (Gillispie) he’s talked about coming closer as a team and being a family,” Wagner said. “(It’s about) teamwork.”
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