By Raymond A. Partsch III, Written for the LSWA
ALEXANDRIA -- Peabody Magnet High School is synonymous with hardwood success. The boys basketball powerhouse has made 21 appearances in the Top 28 tournament, has reached the title games 12 time and has hoisted the state championship trophy seven times. Since 2006, the Alexandria school has reached the semifinals all but two seasons, and has won three state championships.
During its recent run of dominance, Peabody has featured tall, athletic playmakers such as Southeastern Louisiana's Desmond King, Southern Cal's Marcus Simmons and Oklahoma State's Markel Brown.
Standing 5-foot-11, Dee Wagner is not in that same mold, but that did not prevent him from coming up big this season for Peabody. Wagner averaged 20.2 points per game as he led Peabody to a 35-1 record and a Class 4A state title.
For that accomplishment, Wagner was selected as the Louisiana SportsWriters Association's Farm Bureau/Mr. Basketball winner for 2012. Wagner is the second Peabody player to receive the honor, following Brown, who won in 2010.
"This is a huge honor," said Wagner, who was also voted Class 4A Outstanding Player by an LSWA panel. "I would have never expected receiving this honor. When Markel (Brown) was named Mr. Basketball that was to be expected but this is a total surprise."
"Dee is an outstanding young man and player," Peabody coach Charles Smith said. "He became an extension of me out on the floor."
Wagner excelled during the team's championship run by attacking the part of the floor often owned by larger players. In the team's 60-35 victory over Huntington in the quarterfinals, he went right at 6-5 Michael Qualls, an Arkansas signee, while scoring a team-high 15 points.
Next up was Neville's 6-7 Zay Henderson, a Murray State signee. Wagner zipped past the post player a few times as he went on to score 16 points in the team's 47-42 semifinal win. Wagner, though, saved his best for last.
In the championship game against St. Augustine, Wagner bested two of the Purple Knights' best players, point guard Javan Felix and his 6-7 teammate Deion Taylor. Wagner led all scorers with 20 points, while Felix and Taylor combined for 17 points. Wagner earned MVP honors in a 58-41 Peabody victory.
"He is a tremendous player and leader," Peabody senior Josh Ivory said. "As for him being aggressive, he has always played with a chip on his shoulder. He never has backed down from anyone."
Wagner doesn't view his attacking style as having a chip on his shoulder. To him, it is simply the only way for him to play the game that he loves.
"To be honest, when I am on the court, I feel that everyone is the same size as me," said Wagner, who has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. "I just go out there with the mindset that I am going to attack them before they have a chance to do anything to me."
Farm Bureau/LSWA Mr. Basketball winners
1996: Lester Earl, Glen Oaks
1997: Marcus Fizer, Arcadia
1998: Stromile Swift, Fair Park-Shreveport
1999: Bernard King, Gibsland-Coleman
2000: Chris Duhon, Salmen
2001: Donald Perry, McCall-Tallulah
2002: Darrel Mitchell Jr., St. Martinville
2003: Paul Millsap, Grambling
2004: Glen Davis, University
2005: Tasmin Mitchell, Denham Springs
2006: Demond Carter, Reserve Christian
2007: Greg Monroe, Helen Cox
2008: Greg Monroe, Helen Cox
2009: Joevoskie Mitchell, Zwolle
2010: Markel Brown, Peabody
2011: Ricardo Gathers, Riverside
2012: Dee Wagner, Peabody