Darrin Everage Jr. has it somewhat figured out.

The Monitor’s All-Area Defensive Player of the Year knows that if he ever had the unenviable task of guarding the Houston Rockets’ James Harden, the first thing the high school lefty would do is to try and force Harden left.

“The big thing is to make him a driver, stop his 3-point shot, play his left hand and hope to keep a hand in his face,” said Everage, a junior who plays and guards every position for McAllen Rowe. “It’s just hard to stop a guy like him. A lot of times, defenders want to go with a block. Sometimes, you have to live with putting a hand in their face.”

This year, Everage got called upon to guard some of the Valley’s biggest and best, including the Valley’s top scorer from PSJA North (and last year’s All-Area Player of the Year) Daunte Galvan, current All-Area Player of the Year Noah Sekinger of Edinburg Vela and Edinburg Economedes’ Angel Salinas, who was on the team that Carlos Ramos, the All-Area Coach of the Year, led to a program-best 26 wins.

“They were tough guards, each with something different,” said Everage, who averaged 13 points, 5.1 assists, 4 steals, 8.5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. “Daunte can score from anywhere, Angel was real quick and you can’t gamble on him for anything, and Noah had to try to take away that right hand and make him drive. It’s different things with different people.”

Everage is one of those rare athletes who has a different mindset on the court and he talks about that very openly when it comes to basketball. “I just find playing defense exciting,” he said. “I’ll watch the NBA or college players and my mindset is, ‘What can I do to stop them? No matter who it is. Find a weakness in the player’s game and exploit that as much as possible.”

It’s already rare to find an athlete who takes as much pride on defense as in offense, but Everage said he feels he developed those skills on both sides of the court equally. By the time he reached high school, his coach saw that he had both an offensive and defensive-minded star.

“I just take a lot of pride in that,” Everage said. “I want to cover their best man and try to make a difference for our team.

Everage’s ability goes beyond the basketball court. Recently, he received a Dave Campbell’s Unsung Hero Award. The honor was bestowed on those who were not only exemplary on the basketball court, but also standing out in the classroom and the community.

The 6-foot-2 Everage and sophomore Louie Yebra are two of the District 30-6A s stars that return next year for the Warriors. Everage was named his district’s Defensive Player of the Year, while Yebra was selected for the District 30-6A first team.

While the matchup between Harden and Everage may not come around, there’s always a chance for a random game of 21 between Yebra and Everage. And Everage said he has a pretty good idea who would come out on top.

“I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Everage started out. “Louie does a real good job. I respect him a lot and he’s tough to guard, especially once he’s in the air.

“But, yeah, I would say that I would come out on top.”

And as much as he respects his teammate, he’d rather face Yebra on the basketball court than his volleyball all-state sister for McAllen Memorial, Jocelyn Everage.

“I wouldn’t want to face her spikes,” he said. “She is deadly with that and I know I would end up with one of them in my face. No thanks.”

Bring on Yebra — and even Harden — instead.

 

Check back later today for stories on the Coach of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year.