A year ago, the name of Madison High guard Marquis Borney could not be found on the Belleville News-Democrat's Class 1A-2A All-Area Team.
Known primarily for his defense, Borney averaged fewer than seven points per game and didn't attract a ton of attention heading into his senior year.
But when the senior guard known as "Buck" to his teammates walked off the court at Peoria's Carver Arena for his final high school game, he had helped Madison to a second-place finish at state as their top scorer and second-leading rebounder.
As a result, metro-east coaches voted Borney the News-Democrat's Class 1A-2A Player of the Year as he edged Okawville High senior Jeremy Weeke.
Borney's win ended Central High's four-year run on Player of the Year honors. Brandon Book won it twice after David Wiegmann and Garrett Gaffner each were voted to the top spot.
"That's big accomplishment for me," Borney said when informed of the honor. "It did surprise me because of going from my junior year and senior year to this ... it's a little surprising, but I'm proud of it."
The 6-foot-2 Borney was also named first-team All-State by the Associated Press and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
"He carried us," Madison coach Jaime Cotto said of Borney, who averaged 21.1 points, 6.1 rebounds. 2.1 steals and 2.2 assists. "I remember coming back from the interview when we lost the championship game and thanked him for carrying our team through the state run."
Area coaches didn't forget Cotto, either. They voted him the News-Democrat Coach of the Year after he guided the Trojans to a second-place finish at the Class 1A state tourney.
Borney said his favorite memory from the Trojans' season was being part of the super-sectional victory celebration.
"It was getting to state," said Borney, who scored 27 points in 22 minutes in the super-sectional win over Payson Seymour at the Jacksonville Bowl. "Seeing the guys faces after we won that super-sectional, seeing them happy and all hugging, I can't forget that because that's what we dreamed about.
"We dreamed about getting to state."
Borney was challenged by Cotto and his uncle, former Madison High and Oklahoma State standout Maurice Baker, to shoot more and become more of a take-charge leader.
Borney nodded his head and went to work in the offseason.
"That's the surprising part," Borney said of the huge difference in scoring from his junior to senior year. "I knew I could do it. I just had to get comfortable and start taking more shots, doing more things to help my team."
The finished product was a completely different player than what Borney had been. Still a shut-down defender and superb rebounder, Borney added a better shot and higher scoring to his repertoire and the Trojans were the main beneficiary.
"He wasn't very vocal," Cotto said, "but when he was the kids listened and followed his leadership through hard work. He's very humble. If you were here at Madison High School and saw him walk the hallways, you would never guess he was our best player."
While Borney and the Trojans wanted to bring home the school's third state title, he still took great pride in the runner-up finish.
"I was proud of the guys because most people never even get to state," Borney said. "To go there and compete in the championship game, I was proud of what we did and the way we made it. Sometimes it doesn't break your way.
"We gave it a good run, it wasn't going to go our way the whole time. We went up there and competed hard, we didn't come up there just for the fun of it."
Borney has received recruiting interest from Division III Illinois College and some other schools, but Cotto is surprised there aren't more offers.
"That's the one thing I'm very disappointed in," Cotto said. "I don't really see the offers that I thought we were going to see to be honest. Some people are still interested, but I still think the offers aren't matching his ability."
Borney is taking it all in stride, hoping he will get a scholarship opportunity.
"I'm just being patient right now," he said. "I know it's going to come."
Cotto has led Madison to an 84-38 mark in four seasons as head coach. The Trojans finished second at state this year and third in 2010.
Borney was glad to see his coach named Coach of the Year.
"He deserves it," Borney said. "He's an underrated coach that people may not see as one of the best, but they don't know. He's been good to me and he's a big influence on who I am now."