Be it football or basketball, 6-3 Brown Deer senior athlete Trayvon Palmer has a nose for the ball.
A two-time NOW All-Suburban selection in football as a wide receiver and defensive back, Palmer led the Falcon basketball team to a 21-4 record this winter as a do-everything forward who earned Woodland Conference Eastern Division Player of the Year honors for the league champions as well as slot on the NOW All-Suburban basketball team.
He did it by using his impossible quickness to dominate the offensive boards and to get his hands on nearly every pass on the defensive end.
"He should be an all-stater as far as I'm concerned (he was honorable mention)," coach Kelly Appleby said. "He had a lot to do with how successful we are. He scored points, he got steals, he grabbed rebounds. He shoots well at the line and from the field."
"Just watch him, he is just relentless when he plays," he continued. "He gets us so many hustle points it is unbelievable. Half of his points are on putbacks. Inside and outside, he just has a great basketball IQ."
So much so that even after the Falcons' disappointing season-ending WIAA sectional semifinal loss to eventual state qualifier East Troy, Palmer could be seen talking to UW-Milwaukee basketball coach Rob Jeter.
The thing is, Palmer has not decided whether to play basketball or football in college. For as much as he finds joy on the hardwood, he is just as happy playing both sides of the ball on the grassy fields of the fall.
According to Palmer, he's just out there having fun and it's hard to choose between his loves.
Which does he like more?
"I get asked that question all the time," he said. "It's just whatever I'm playing at the time."
As it stands, the student leader at Brown Deer will have more discussions with the UWM staff and still has some collegiate visits to take for football yet too.
Wherever he goes to school, he would like to major in the business field, and when he does that, he will likely bring what he thinks is his best component beyond his speed: his hops and his instinct.
"I like to think it's my determination," he said. "Just realizing my role and getting things done. I know I'm not the biggest player out there so I have to play bigger and tougher."
To that end, in practice he would frequently work out with the tallest Falcon, 6-7 junior starting center Devante Jackson, so he could figure out ways to get his shot off around bigger players as well as defend them better.
"I was bigger than most of the guards I would play against and quicker than the big guys I would have to guard too," he said.
Leading by example
Palmer was proud to be a leader on this team that featured 10 seniors. He was a tri-captain with Jake Schimenz and Desmond.
Palmer preferred more to lead by example, though, he said, "I could speak up when I wanted to."
"I really liked the character of this team," he said. "When we were tested we were able to come back and we were tested a lot. We'd come back and get it week after week."
He led by example in other ways around the school. He played the role of a drunk-driving fatality who had been thrown through a car window in a pre-prom simulation last spring showing fellow students the effects of drinking and fast driving.
On the court, however, it was the quicker the better for the Falcon basketball team.
Palmer said he and his teammates like the up-tempo press and attack style of play that Appleby instituted when he took over two years ago. It led to some harrowing moments this season as the Falcons on occasion would fall behind by huge margins and then have to rally. Victories over Greendale, Whitnall and Pius XI were done in that fashion.
"We liked the fastbreak style," he said. "We were eager to get it going, but sometimes we would relax and then we would have to get it going. We would be going on adrenaline (in those moments)."
Many of those rallies would often turn on a timely Palmer putback or steal.
"For me, when the ball goes up, I just make a quick judgment," he said. "It's hard to explain. I just seem to know where it's going."
Palmer was pleased to be going out as a conference champion. Where he is headed this fall will likely be decided a little later this spring.
"I'm really happy how things turned out," he said. "It just shows that all the hard work has really paid off."
Palmer leads Falcons
Tri-captain led in many ways
Palmer averaged team-highs of 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. He led the team in free throws and made 76 percent of them. He had team highs with 60 steals and 49 blocked shots.