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Bettendorf's D.J. Carton drives into Dubuque Senior's Noah Carter and passes the ball during a substate final last month. Carton was named Iowa's Gatorade Player of the Year on Friday. 

Just like Mr. Basketball, the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year award is staying in the Mississippi Athletic Conference.

Bettendorf's D.J. Carton was announced Friday as the state's winner for the 2018-19 season, marking the third consecutive year the MAC has had the recipient. 

Carton, a five-star recruit and Ohio State signee, averaged 24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game for the 21-win Bulldogs. He leaves Bettendorf as the single season and career scoring leader (1,198 points).

"D.J. is an unbelievable talent, one of the most explosive players that I've ever seen in my 20 years here," Linn-Mar coach Chris Robertson said. "He has the unique ability to take his game to another level when needed."

Carton shared Mr. Basketball honors in the state with North Linn's Jake Hilmer earlier this week. He keeps the Gatorade award in the league after Muscatine's Joe Wieskamp received it the past two seasons. 

The Gatorade honor encompasses athletic excellence, academic achievement and character. Carton has maintained a 'B' average during his high school career and has volunteered with youth sports programs, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Special Olympics and a homeless shelter. 

Carton, Bettendorf's first Gatorade winner in boys basketball, is ranked among the top 30 prospects in the 2019 class. He has been invited to play in the Allen Iverson Classic in April. 

"My journey has been amazing here at Bettendorf," Carton said after the season-ending loss to Dubuque Senior. "I've had a lot of people support me. I wasn't a big-time player my freshman and sophomore seasons, but I put in the work and I wanted it.

"It does show it is possible you can follow your dreams if you keep fighting."

Carton will receive a $1,000 grant he can award to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing.

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.