2019 Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Johnsburg's Zach Toussaint

Record-setting repeat player of year has seemingly limitless range

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Zach Toussaint scoring 2,249 points during his career at Johnsburg is that he only had 56 as a freshman. Most players need four seasons to get near the 2,000-point mark. Toussaint did most of his scoring in three.

The 6-foot guard scored more than 30 points 10 times this season and finished with 748 points. His career total is the most of any boys player in McHenry County-area history.

Toussaint, who averaged 23.8 points a game and led the Skyhawks to back-to-back Class 3A regional championships, repeats as the Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Toussaint was selected by the Herald sports staff, with input from area coaches. Cary-Grove’s Beau Frericks and Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Timmerman also were considered for the honor.

Toussaint joins former Jacobs player Johnny Moran (2007, 2008) and former Woodstock player Maury Leitzke (1990, 1991) as the only repeat winners as boys players.

Toussaint, who will play at NCAA Division II West Texas A&M, averaged 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals a game this season. He scored 51 points early in the season, although the Skyhawks lost that game to Wauconda, 90-83.

Defenses constantly game-planned to stop Toussaint, although most found it difficult slowing him down. He would pull up at the volleyball line, about 27 feet away, and stick 3-pointers. Then, when defenses played him tighter, he would race into the lane and pull up for short jumpers or feed teammates for easy buckets.

“I know he’s my nephew, and I’m going to see him a lot, but I got to watch one of the best players in the state play every night for three years,” Skyhawks coach Mike Toussaint said. “One of the best of all time.”

Toussaint answered some questions from Northwest Herald sports writer Joe Stevenson, who mainly needed a tip on how to increase one's shooting range.

What throwback jersey would you like to have?

Toussaint: Steph Curry college jersey from Davidson.

What is the best way for a shooter to increase his or her range?

Toussaint: The best way is every time you practice, start at the 3-point line and after 10 shots, take a step back and keep doing this until you reach halfcourt. When you’re doing this, don’t focus on your legs as much, but flick your wrist harder the farther you get away from the basket.

Who’s the most famous person you have taken a picture with?

Toussaint: (Former Johnsburg athletic director and current assistant coach) Bruce Harbecke.

Your father, Eric, assists your uncle Mike as Johnsburg head coach. How long do you rehash games when you go home?

Toussaint: We’ve never talked about a game afterwards and usually never talk about a past game. This happens because I know more about basketball than him. Usually our conversations about basketball are about our upcoming opponents and the game plan against them.

How many shots do you take a day?

Toussaint: I wish I could say a huge number, but to be honest, during the season, after practice I usually just work on my moves, so I don’t get many shots up. Then, I do shoot a lot on Sunday nights, probably 500 shots. In the offseason I work out every day, and then some nights I’ll ask my dad if we can get shots up at the high school, and that will be around 500 shots.

Do you have to hit your last shot before leaving the gym?

Toussaint: Of course.

What will you remember most about your high school career?

Toussaint: All the fun that I’ve had these past four years and the memories that I have made with my teammates and coaches. All of the people that have been with me over the years have just been awesome. The town of Johnsburg and its people are so great, I would not have wanted to play for anyone else. When I leave for college, it will be very hard. I want to thank everyone who’s been with me and supported me a ton, and my dad for being there ever since I picked up a basketball.

What is your favorite class in high school?

Toussaint: Whatever class I don’t have a test in that day.

What is one of your biggest pet peeves?

Toussaint: My grandma’s dog peeing on me every time I walk through the door when I go to her house.

Which video game are you best at?

Toussaint: NBA 2K. When I beat Gibby (teammate Gibson Groves) he complains because I make too many 3s. What do you expect?

What are your best memories of playing high school sports?

Toussaint: I mentioned basketball earlier. I have almost as much fun playing baseball, but I’m not good at it, so I always get mad that I’m doing badly. My freshman and sophomore year, I had coach (Mike) Sommerfield, who was an amazing coach, and I had so many fun times with him. Last year, I had a lot of fun with (assistant) coach (James) Toomey and (head) coach (Sam) Lesniak and (assistant) coach (John) Nemcek. Nemcek says he’s going to make me a stud pitcher, so we’ll see if I have to change sports for college. I will always remember Coach Lesniak’s speeches that he gives and the motivation and perspectives on life he gives you. Coach Lesniak has probably given me the most life lessons, and without him I wouldn’t be the leader I am today.

If you were a soap opera character, what would your name be? (Your middle name and the name of the street you live on).

Toussaint: Anthony Amber.

Which one of your teammates makes you laugh (and why)?

Toussaint: Guty (Jacob Gutierrez). The way he gets into other players’ heads is hilarious, and he always sticks up for me on the court. He’s not mean at all, though he does things that are funny and usually gets in the other team’s best player’s head, which is great for our team.

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