John Shea of Edward Little High School in Auburn has been named Maine's 2022 Mr. Basketball. Credit: Ernie Clark / BDN

Edward Little of Auburn’s John Shea committed to play basketball at the University of Maine on Saturday, the same day he took the state’s top honor for a senior player.

Shea, a 6-foot-6 center with an inside-out game who averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds per game this season while leading the Red Eddies to the Class AA regional championship game, enters a UMaine program that has long sat among the worst Division I programs in the nation.

“Beyond grateful to announce my commitment to play division 1 basketball at the University of Maine Orono,” Shea said in a Saturday Instagram post.

His commitment is a milestone for a Maine high schooler and a win for interim coach Jai Steadman, who took over after Richard Barron left in February in his fourth year as the men’s coach. It is unclear whether Steadman will stay as UMaine searches for a permanent coach, but he has placed recruiting Maine’s top high-school players among his top priorities.

The Black Bears finished this season ranked 353rd out of 358 Division I programs and at the bottom of the America East conference with an overall record of 6-23. That team had no native Mainers on the roster. It has struggled to draw fans in comparison with a UMaine women’s team among the top programs in the conference under coach Amy Vachon.

Alongside Shea, the Black Bear men under Steadman have also made offers to freshman phenom Cooper Flagg, who led Nokomis Regional High School of Newport to its first Class A state championship this year, and his twin brother, Ace. Both Flaggs figure to have more options by late 2024, when they will be eligible to accept scholarship offers.

Shea will be the fifth Mr. Maine Basketball since 2007 to suit up for the Black Bears, joining a group that includes Edward Little alumnus Troy Barnies. He won the award in 2007 and is still playing professionally in Europe. Shea cites Barnies as a mentor.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...