US AIR FORCE ACADEMY – In just the last two seasons, Noah Hellem has experienced the highs and lows that come with high school basketball.

Less than a year ago, he helped lead the Kadets to the Class 5A state championship game where they lost a tough battle to Mesa Ridge. This year, the team didn’t sustain that level of success but walking off his home court for the final time after a loss to Lutheran on Feb. 14, he was all smiles.

In his last game in front of his home fans, he scored his 1,000th career point which made him reflective of his time at Air Academy.

“It was really special to go through this journey and get to 1,000,” Hellem said. “It’s been a blessing and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

One last honor that Hellem received prior to closing out his career was being named the Whataburger Athlete of the Week.

While it is an athlete of the week award, Hellem’s full body of work for the 2023-24 season could have made him worthy of the honors at any point. He averaged 21.3 points per game and was a consistent offensive spark for the Kadets.

His season high was 35 points which he scored in the second game of the year, a 63-40 win over Centaurus. That game established the pace that he would play through the course of the season. With the loss of so many seniors from that state runner-up team in 2023 it was always going to be difficult for the Kadets to maintain that level of success.

But on every defensive possession, every fast break and every open shot, Hellem played the game the way it needed to be played. He wasn’t worried about the team’s overall record for the end of the year. He wanted to succeed in his role in that moment and have faith that things would work out the way they needed to.

And really, they did.

Standing in a hallway outside the gym after his final home game, the 2023-24 season will be just one blip in an experience he’ll remember forever.

“I’ve made so many memories that I’ll be able to tell my kids and that I’ll just remember forever,” Hellem said. “Stuff like this, it’s been my life and it’s been amazing. I’ll never forget it.”

The Whataburger Athlete of the Week works in conjunction with our friends at FOX21. Check out their video package of the Athlete of Week each Wednesday.

The Kadets may not be done quite yet. As of Friday morning, the Kadets sat at No. 32 in the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index so a playoff appearance might be in their future.

Regardless of how that shakes out, once Hellem is completely done with the season a solid lunch at Whataburger might be the best way to treat himself for effort he put in.

And just like his basketball game, when he goes for a burger he doesn’t need anything flashy or complex. He keeps things simple.

“I go with an original cheeseburger,” Hellem said. “That’s my go-to.”