Troy Barnies was probably throwing down some serious dunks on the hoop in his crib when Larry Bird was still playing, so he isn’t sure whether he belongs in the same company with the Celtic legend, even though his athletic director has made the comparison.

What Barnies can be sure of is that he belongs in the same company as Ralph Mims, Nik Caner-Medley, T.J. Caouette, Andy Bedard and other recent legends of Maine high school basketball after being named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year for 2006-07.

The awards are starting to add up for the Edward Little Star – KVAC South Co-Player of the Year with Gardiner’s Sean McNally, Mr. Maine Basketball and now this honor, which makes him eligible for the National Player of the Year. But Barnies said he’s still surprised to hear his name mentioned.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “I was thinking someone more like Alex Gallant (of Bangor) would win this one because he had such a great year, bringing them all the way to the state game and winning it.”

The 6-foot-9 Barnies averaged 22.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while leading the Eddies through an undefeated regular season, the KVAC title and a 19-1 finish.

“Troy is a Larry Bird-type player,” EL athletic director Dan Deshaies said. “He scored 23 points per game, but that could have easily been 35. He’s so unselfish in the way he plays the game. When he was in middle school, he wasn’t one of the better players, but he just kept working and working. He just dedicated himself to this team.”

State winners are selected not only for their outstanding athletic performance, but also for meeting high academic-achievement standards while demonstrating exemplary personal character on and off the court.

Barnies has maintained a B-plus average and volunteers as a mentor for troubled youths. He is also a leader for Edward Little’s “Kick-Off” program, through which seniors offer guidance to incoming freshmen.

Headed to the University of Maine in the fall on a basketball scholarship, Barnies is staying in shape by competing in several track and field events for EL. He’s also weightlifting six times a week and playing basketball with some members of Bates’ basketball team.

“I just needed some college experience, so I thought it would be a good idea to play with those guys with I can,” he said.

“(Bates guard) Zak Ray is a good friend of mine and a former Mr. Basketball, so I’m trying to learn as much from him about college ball as I can before I go up to Orono.”

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