Star forward Patrick Burke was crowned the Goldfields Giants’ most valuable State Basketball League player on Sunday night, capping off a remarkable debut campaign in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Recruited from Dallas Baptist University, Burke averaged 24.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in 27 games and ranked fifth in the SBL for scoring (653 points).
Burke also produced the second-most prolific individual performance in the SBL — 44 points against Kalamunda in June — and landed his field goals with 56.5 percent efficiency.
The 23-year-old pipped hard-edged teammate Dave Humphries, who finished second following a close vote count at Hoover’s Bar and Bistro.
“I’m honoured to be the one who ended up getting it,” Burke said. “It really came down to the wire. I wasn’t sure who was going to win towards the end there, the voting was pretty close.
“It’s a credit to those guys — Dave (Humphries), Mayo (Manylok Malek), Jay (Bowie) — it really could have gone to any one of us.
It’s always good to be able to put that on a resume, that your rookie season was a good one.
While he has polled well during several conference competitions in the United States, Burke had never previously claimed a team MVP award.
Coach Wayne Creek was effusive in his praise of the highly rated import, who earned plaudits for his character and considerable talent.
“Pat’s just a genuinely nice guy and a good person,” Creek said.
“He’s extremely easy to coach, he listens and takes on board what you say and he’ll provide a bit of feedback and talk openly about what he sees. He’s very easy to work with in that respect.
“As to what he brings on the floor, he brought that toughness we desperately needed. They don’t call him ‘Moose’ for no reason. He’s big, he’s strong and he does a lot of the dirty work inside and we really needed that presence he brought.
“He shoots the ball with serious accuracy inside the paint, and invariable scores when gets it.
“He did exactly what we hoped he’d do when we heard about him and he’s a really good guy to have around, who is well liked by all the guys in the team.”
Creek was just as complimentary of Humphries, who moved to the Goldfields from South Australia in the off-season with partner and fellow Giant Jessica Puvogel.
“You look at Dave and he’s a guy that wants to win at all costs,” Creek said. “He provided another dynamic there that we desperately needed — those guys that want to win at all costs. That’s exactly what he brought.”
The Giants are eager for Burke and Humphries to return next season, though neither has formally committed to a contract extension.
Meanwhile, eight awards were handed out to the leaders of specific statistical categories — Burke (points scored), Humphries (steals), Manylok Malek (rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage), Jay Bowie (three-point percentage, assists) and Brandon Holloway (free throw percentage).