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Kalamazoo Central’s Isaiah Livers named 2017 Michigan Mr. Basketball

By: Jeff Dullack, March 20, 2017, 5:20 pm

Detroit – Kalamazoo Central’s Isaiah Livers was named the 2017 Mr. Basketball Award winner on Monday afternoon at the Detroit Free Press Building in downtown Detroit.

Livers won the award with 2,811 total points in the voting, edging out Grand Rapids Christian’s Xavier Tillman by just 72 points in one of the closest Mr. Basketball Award contests ever.

Tillman received 30 more first place votes than Livers, but Livers received 64 more second place votes and 30 more third place votes. Points are awarded on a 5-3-1 count.

Livers is the first Kalamazoo Central Player to win the award.

“I smiled and I was like ‘Wow, that actually just happened’, it was a surreal feeling,” Livers said. “When I was on my way driving up here, I think that’s when it actually hit me and when I got up to the stand in front of all of those people that have been there for me, it hit me hard. I’m very proud of myself and I’m just so happy.”

The Mr. Basketball award is sponsored by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and the Detroit Free Press, but only BCAM members are allowed to vote on the award.

Livers, a 6-8 forward, has averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds per game this season and has helped lead the Maroon Giants to the Class A quarterfinals, where they will face Top-Ranked Grand Rapids Christian at Lansing Eastern high school.

Kalamazoo Central head coach Ramsey Nichols said that he’s proud to see the hard work that his senior forward has put in throughout his high school career pay off with the Mr. Basketball Award.

“He’s put in a tremendous amount of work,” he said. “You can see it on the court, he’s improved every single year. There are other worthy candidates, but I think he is a very deserving candidate and he’s an all-around kid, he’s great off the court, handles his business in the classroom and he’s a great teammate. Although he garners a lot of attention, he has as much excitement about his team’s success as he does his own success.

For Livers, who is signed to play for Michigan next season, he didn’t always believe basketball was in his future, originally thinking his athletic future was on the baseball diamond.

But at the end of his sophomore season, Livers had begun hearing of possibilities of winning the Mr. Basketball Award and quickly began focusing in on a potential basketball career.

“I think it started in my sophomore year,” he said. “At the end of the season, I had started hearing chatter about Mr. Basketball and stuff like that and I had never even heard of it, because I was actually a baseball guy, so I was looking to start my career in baseball. So that’s when I actually started taking basketball seriously, so I had something to train for and get ready for.”

This isn’t the first time Nichols has coached a Mr. Basketball winner. Nichols coached 2005 Mr. Basketball Award winner Wilson Chandler at Benton Harbor high school. Chandler currently plays in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets.

“First, I’m just truly blessed just to be able to coach two once in a lifetime guys,” Nichols said. “I just pride myself on being a players coach that prepares guys for the next level.

Before Livers continues his basketball career at the next level, he and his teammates have their focus turned to the rest of this season, where the Maroon Giants are one win away from advancing to the Class A semifinals at the Breslin Center.

“Me and my teammates like to be doubted,” he said. “That’s just how we are, we like people overlooking us because that’s how you really lose games, by overlooking a team. We just take our defensive pressure and turn it up all the way and I think we can win against anybody.”