Dimond Lynx basketball coach Brad Lauwers should probably get in the habit of looking up — way up — when he huddles with his players. At the end of March, right after Alaska's high school basketball season ends, he'll be coaching 7-foot-3 Bol Bol, one of the nation's top (and tallest) players.
Lauwers and Wasilla Warriors girls coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax on Tuesday were named head coaches for this year's McDonald's All-American high school basketball teams.
The prestigious games make up the biggest high school all-star event of the season. Past participants include LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Candace Parker, who in 2004 beat all of the boys to win the dunk contest.
Lauwers will coach the West region boys team headlined by Bol, the son of former NBA player Manute Bol, who at 7-7 was one of the two tallest players in NBA history.
Hebert-Truax be the head coach of the West region girls team, which includes a pair of players ranked by some recruiting services as this season's top two college prospects — 6-5 Charli Collier of Texas and 5-11 Christine Williams of Arkansas. Collier has committed to the University of Texas; Williams is headed to UConn.
The West teams will face the East teams March 28 in Atlanta. The games will air live on ESPN.
"It's gonna be amazing," Lauwers said. "It might be something that sinks in 15 years later as they establish themselves as professionals. It'll make watching college and the NBA more interesting."
Lauwers said he learned about his selection last week but wasn't able to talk about it publicly until Tuesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, he hadn't told his team yet.
"Someone said that now the kids are really gonna have to listen to me," Lauwers said, "and I said, 'We better have something to say.' ''
Lauwers and Hebert-Truax both led their teams to Class 4A state championships last season.
Lauwers, 58, is a Dimond High graduate in his 24th season as a head coach. He's coached a variety of sports at a variety of schools, including basketball at Dimond, West and Heritage Christian.
Hebert-Truax is a 1988 Monroe Catholic graduate who has won six state championships since becoming Wasilla's head girls coach in 1995-96.
"It's kinda nice for us both to be able to do it," Lauwers said.
Both get to take two assistants to Atlanta. Lauwers chose his son Colton Lauwers, who is 27 and Dimond's JV coach, and longtime assistant Krehg Perez, who is in his first season as the Houston Hawks coach. Hebert-Truax is taking longtime assistant coach Karissa Rollman and Wasilla High activities director Stacia Rustad.
Lauwers said he's not sure how he and Hebert-Truax were chosen. Officials with the McDonald's All-American games didn't immediately respond to a query.
Lauwers and Hebert-Truax won't be the first Alaskans to be part of the event, which dates back to 1978 for the boys game and 2002 for the girls game.
In 2010, Dorena Bingham of East High was the head coach of the West region girls teams. And three Alaska boys have played in the game.
In 1994, East High star Trajan Langdon won the 3-point contest. In 1999, Juneau-Douglas star Carlos Boozer racked up a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double. And in 2005, Bartlett High star Mario Chalmers won the 3-point contest and then came through with 20 points, five assists and five steals in the game.
Ruthy Hebard of West Valley was a nominee for the 2016 girls team but did not make the final roster. She's currently an acclaimed sophomore for the Oregon Ducks — the same college Bol Bol is headed to.