His parents probably still call him by his first name, but to the rest of us, he’s Maine’s new Mr. Basketball. Bonny Eagle’s one and only Dustin Cole recently captured that accolade, beating Zach Gilpin and Isaiah Bess, both of Hampden Academy.

The announcement was made at the Maine McDonald’s High School Senior All-Star Basketball Games awards banquet held at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor last weekend.

It’s another in a lengthy string of individual achievements for a player who would readily swap any of them for a chance at the prize that eluded him, four years in a row: A state championship victory.

“It’s a great honor to have won the award,” Cole says, a line he surely knows well. “Great two players I was up against, and I was lucky enough to win it.”

But “I’d definitely trade any one of them [his individual awards] for a Gold Ball, that’s for sure,” he adds.

“This year his teammates voted him not only MVP, but hardest worker, most dedicated,” says Bonny Eagle head coach Phil Bourassa. “But, even though he was the hardest worker I’ve ever seen, he also had every gift of athleticism – aside from size – you could dream of.”

Dustin is roughly 5-foot-9, 155 pounds.

So how does one become “Mr. Basketball,” especially without being 6 feet or taller? In short, one has game. Dustin’s fellow starters in 2013-14 were excellent players as well: Jon Woods, Nate Alexander, Nick Dubay, and Ben Malloy (also Cole’s best friend) can all put up points, make passes, rebound and defend, but Cole was clearly their leader. Heck, Cole’s been a Scots leader since he was a freshman – he started all four years and was a captain for three.

“In seventh grade, he could’ve started for us at point guard. He would’ve, for six straight years, if that was legal.” Bourassa has been coaching Cole since his middle school days.

Asked what sets his game apart from others’, Cole “umms” momentarily before dishing to his squad: “That – I’m still a team player…but, I mean, I just do what I have to do to get us the W.”

Asked more pointed questions about his style – for instance, his presence on the attack perimeter near the end of a quarter – he answers from a strategic perspective: “I’m just playing the game…especially at the end of a quarter. If you have the ball, you don’t want the other team to get the last shot.”

Pressed on the matter, Cole concedes he does things differently on the court, but, by and large, he seems somewhat unaware that watching him play is not like watching most others play. Instead, he’s just, indeed, playing the game, the only way he knows how. Or, rather, the way only he knows how.

In four years as a Scot, playing his way has earned Cole more than 1,800 points. “And that’s just regular season and playoff games,” Bourassa adds. “He played 25 exhibition games that some schools count, and we don’t count that.”

But he’s hardly a ball-hog. To watch him play is to see him dish often; sometimes at the last moment. “There’s not a selfish bone in that kid’s body,” Bourassa says. “If anything, that’s just what he feels is the best chance of winning. And there’s a lot of times when him not passing the ball is the best chance of winning.”

“He had a few more weapons this year,” Bourassa adds. “You saw his points go down this year. As a junior he averaged 29 points a game, and this year he averaged 24.5. I think he had a few more guys around him that he trusted, and his assists when up drastically, too.”

He’s not lingering on Bonny Eagle’s four thwarted attempts at States, by the way. “It’ll definitely be that I had four good years,” he says of how he expects to look back on high school in the future. “I wouldn’t take back anything; I wouldn’t change anything.”

Life goes on, though, and so does Cole – he’s off to Franklin Pierce on a scholarship in the fall, where he’s leaning toward studying business, and where he’s likely to continue making headlines. He took a trip to Bentley in late February to watch his future team in action.

The pressure doesn’t get to him, though; he doesn’t mind that people know him as a basketball machine. “But I take breaks from it, so it’s not too bad.” Nor does a spotlight irritate him. He even likes his 15 minutes of fame – as often as they come around. “I definitely enjoy it; it’s fun,” he says. “No, I wouldn’t change anything,” he laughs.

Beyond college, he’s got greater aspirations still: “Hopefully I can play basketball overseas for a few years after my college career.” In particular, he’s excited about the possibility of playing in Europe. “I was just texting Troy Barnies – he went to Edward Little a few years back; he’s playing over in a European league now. It would be a lot of fun.”

He’s never been to Europe. “I’ve never actually left the country,” he says. One doesn’t doubt he’ll get there. For now, he’s the Mr. Basketball Maine, but come fall he’ll be a Mr. Basketball of the much wider world.

Dustin Cole, just voted Mr. Maine Basketball, works the perimeter, on the attack at home against Windham on Feb. 7. With Cole’s help, the Scots plucked the Eagles that night, 101-51 the final.Cole on the attack at home against Thornton Academy on Jan. 24.


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