Kamiak senior Carson Tuttle is The Herald’s 2018 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Tuttle averaged 22 points per game this season. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kamiak senior Carson Tuttle is The Herald’s 2018 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Tuttle averaged 22 points per game this season. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Carson Tuttle

Kamiak’s senior point guard is the area’s top player for the 2nd straight season.

MUKILTEO — Entering this season, Carson Tuttle’s basketball career at Kamiak was already filled with school records, accolades and team success.

But even after leading the Knights to back-to-back Class 4A state regional appearances, there was still one missing piece in the star point guard’s illustrious career — at least from his perspective.

“It was a big goal of mine to get to the Tacoma Dome,” Tuttle said. “Coming into Kamiak my freshman year, that was my biggest goal.”

Mission accomplished.

After falling one win short of the Hardwood Classic each of the previous two years, Tuttle spearheaded a late-season surge that propelled Kamiak to the Tacoma Dome, where the Knights advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

“Being able to finally get there and play under those lights and on the big stage, it was fulfilling,” Tuttle said.

The ultra-talented senior keyed Kamiak’s historic run with another spectacular year, averaging 22 points, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.

For his sensational campaign, Tuttle is The Herald’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

It’s been an unprecedented run of success for the Tuttle-led Knights, who have reached state each of the past three years. Prior to that, the only other state appearance in the school’s 25-year history came in 2005.

“He’s helped change the culture of Kamiak basketball,” Knights coach Cory West said. “The biggest thing is he just wanted people to know who we are (and) put the basketball team on the map. … And I think he’s done that. He’s left his legacy here.”

Tuttle, who broke the Kamiak career scoring record last season as a junior, finished with 1,779 career points. He once again showcased his dynamic scoring ability this year while netting 25-plus points 11 times, including a school-record 52-point performance Dec. 30 in a Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational tournament game in Southern California.

But Tuttle is far from simply a pure scorer. With smooth ball handling and elite passing, the 5-foot-11 guard excels at carving up opposing defenses and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

“Tuttle is really, really difficult to keep out of the lane,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “And when he’s able to penetrate like that, he kind breaks down your defense, sets up other teammates and wreaks havoc.”

“His ability to see things happen a couple of steps ahead is what makes him so dynamic,” West added.

After the Knights struggled in the first half of the season during a 6-7 start, Tuttle said he began placing a greater emphasis on distributing the ball to his teammates.

“I noticed I was putting more points up at the beginning of the season, (but) we weren’t winning,” he said. “So I had to take some time to think what I could do to help my team be more successful.

“Some of (my teammates) had voiced if they got more touches early on in the game, they could get into a better rhythm and get more comfortable. So I tried to make that adjustment in the second half of the season.”

In addition to Kamiak’s much-improved defense later in the year, Tuttle’s ability to incorporate other scorers was key to the Knights winning 11 of 12 games during their run to the district title and state quarterfinals.

“Carson makes his team go,” Cascade coach Darrell McNeal said. “They don’t have the season or success they had this year if not for him and his ability to get other guys involved.

“He could have easily scored more points, but he realized he had to get other guys involved to make their team more versatile and develop more weapons.”

West said he remembers certain practices later in the season when Tuttle rarely shot the ball, instead passing to his teammates to increase their repetitions and build their confidence.

“He could’ve averaged 30 (points) this year — like, let’s be honest,” West said. “But when he was scoring 30-plus, we were not winning games. … He saw he needed to get those guys going.”

For Tuttle, his polished all-around skill set is the result of a tireless dedication to his craft.

During the high school season, he often woke up at 5:30 a.m. to shoot in the Kamiak gym before heading to class. And after team practices, he spent countless late nights honing his game at the Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club.

“If you want to elevate your game and get to a higher level, you have to put in the time outside of practice,” Tuttle said. “That’s something I’ve taken very seriously since I was young. … I know when I’m not working, somebody else is getting better.”

Tuttle said his relentless work ethic stems from his father, who was a collegiate point guard in Illinois.

“He taught me almost everything I know about the game,” Tuttle said. “He’s probably been (my) biggest inspiration. He’s the one that instilled the hard work and passion.”

Tuttle signed this past November to continue his basketball career at Texas A&M University-Commerce, located about 65 miles northeast of Dallas. The Lions reached the NCAA Division II South Central regional semifinal this season.

Tuttle said he was first noticed by Texas A&M-Commerce coach Jaret von Rosenberg while playing in an AAU tournament last summer in Las Vegas.

“I’m really excited to get out there, because I know this is a very up-and-coming program and there’s big things ahead for A&M-Commerce,” Tuttle said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of going to the next level and trying to prove myself.”

Tuttle said he plans to study kinesiology.

“My dad is a chiropractor,” he said, “so I’ve been around that field my whole life and I’ve gotten kind of familiar with it.”

West said he is excited for Tuttle and the opportunity in front of him.

“I think he’s going to be a contributor to that team sooner (rather than) later,” West said. “I think he’s going to do quite well and make a name for himself down there.”

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