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SHIPROCK – Shiprock’s Andre Joe has earned an honor that no other basketball player in the state this season has received.

The senior found his name on the list of nominees for the McDonald’s All American Game. A total of 755 players throughout the country were nominated — 326 boys and 429 girls — and Joe is the only New Mexico athlete to make the list, which was released Monday.

“I was kind of surprised,” Joe said of being nominated. “I’ve worked really hard to get where I was my freshman year to where I’m at now. Freshman year, I wasn’t the top player, but I kept working on my game and excelled to become one of the leaders at the varsity level.”

Joe is one of Shiprock’s best offensive weapons, doing most of his damage in the post. But he has the ability to knock down 3-pointers as well. Defensively, he provides the Chieftains with toughness in the paint and serves as a rim protector with good shot-blocking ability. He has helped the Chieftains to a 4-5 start this season.

Last season, Joe was named the District 1-4A Co-Player of the Year.

“He has a willingness to never quit, and his attitude on the floor, he never gives up and is always hungry for the ball,” Shiprock head coach Chester Atcitty said of Joe. “He plays hard all the time, and sometimes he overdoes it, so we have to calm him down. He’s very deserving of this.”

Atcitty said one of Joe’s biggest attributes is his leadership, and he sets a good example for the rest of the team off of the court by performing well in his classes.

Atcitty also believes the nomination will boost Joe’s confidence for the rest of the season.

Players can be nominated for the McDonald’s All American games by high school coaches, athletic directors, principals or members of the games’ selection committee. Joe said he does not know who nominated him.

Of the 326 boys nominated, only 24 will be selected to play in the All American game. The final selection will take place Jan. 17 and will be televised on ESPNU.

Joe said being nominated is a huge honor, and he believes it will push him to work harder and become a better leader for the Chieftains.

“It encourages me to work harder and keep building a good work ethic with everything I do, and become a better leader,” he said. “I want to keep encouraging (the Chieftains) to work hard and know that bigger things can be in line for them. If they keep working hard and pushing themselves, good things will happen.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

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