Good wasn’t good enough for Dean Noll.
The Shawnee guard was a top player for a top team as a junior. He wanted to be better.
“I believe I outworked everyone in the offseason,” Noll said. “I was determined to put in the work to get better.”
Noll’s teammate, classmate and close friend Daevon Robinson can confirm that.
“I witnessed that,” Robinson said. “Dean worked every day in the summer, getting in the weight room, getting shots up.
“Even now, we’ll have an off day, and Coach will say, ‘Get some rest,’ and Dean will get up at 8 o’clock in the morning and get some shots up.”
Noll was a second-team all-South Jersey player as a junior. He averaged 16.7 points as Shawnee went 29-3, winning the South Jersey Group 4 title and advancing to the state finals at Rutgers University.
Nioll has taken his game to another level as a senior. That was clear on Tuesday as Noll generated 31 points with five rebounds and three assists in No. 1 Shawnee’s 75-54 win over No. 10 Eastern.
“Dean Noll was the best player on the floor,” Eastern coach Kevin Crawford said. “He did whatever he wanted.”
Noll scored 29 points in the first three quarters. He sat out the game’s final 5 minutes, 20 seconds.
“It’s hard work,” said Robinson, a top forward for the Renegades and a Rutgers football recruit as a wide receiver. “It’s paying off.”
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Noll said he focused on improving his three-point shot after last season. He wanted to add some range to his jumper.
Noll specializes in jump shots off the move from 12 to 15 feet. He made four of them against Eastern.
But he also made a trio of three-pointers, including a pair as Shawnee (5-1) broke the game open with a 29-13 advantage in the third quarter.
“I really wanted to get better at three-point shooting,” Noll said.
Crawford said Noll is more athletic as a senior.
“He’s much more explosive,” Crawford said. “College coaches have to like what they see of him.”
Noll has drawn recruiting interest from several NCAA Division 2 programs. University of the Sciences coach Dave Pauley was in attendance in Eastern’s gymnasium on Tuesday.
Shawnee coach Joe Kessler said Noll should attract offers from Division 1 programs at the Ivy League and Patriot League level.
“He’s the best player in South Jersey right now,” Kessler said of Noll.
Shawnee has won five in a row since a season-opening loss to non-public state power Gill St. Bernard’s. Noll has averaged 25.6 points in the winning streak.
There’s another reason Noll has picked up his game: Necessity.
Shawnee returned all five starters from last season’s team. But senior swingman Sean Heine is out for the year following knee surgery, and junior guard Pat Kernan has yet to play because of a knee ailment.
In addition, senior forward Kane Feudtner has been out with a knee injury, and junior guard Connor Deveney has been sidelined with an ankle ailment.
That meant that four of the Renegades’ top eight players were unavailable on Tuesday.
Noll, along with Robinson (17 rebounds) and senior forward Dylan Deveney (22 points) picked up the slack.
“We all have to focus on doing the little things,” Noll said. “We’re missing some guys but we’re still one of the best teams around.”