I got to watch FW Blackhawk play 3 games last week and WOW. There are not many teams in the state that will match up with them in any class. They have 6'8" Drake Thompson, 6'9" 2021 Caleb Furst, and will have 6'10" Jared Hofer back in the mix for this weeks games. Thompson is a mountain at 275. He doesn't move or catch the ball particullarly well but when he gets it there is no stopping him. Furst played in the paint a ton and played well but he looked more comfortable playing away from the basket at a 4. 2018 Jalen Mull is a very nice PG. He handled the ball well and got to the rim when he wanted. The real surprise for Blackhawk is 6'6" 2019 Frank Davidson. This kid is a freak athlete. He likes to spend most of his time beyond the arc, but can play above the rim with ease. They beat 1A #1 Barr-Reeve by 20. If you get a chance go check them out. I feel they will be playing for a state championship this year.
Basketball doesn't get much better in SouthWest Indiana than 1A #1 Barr-Reeve vs 2A #3 Linton on a Friday night. There was a lot of hype leading up to the game and it did not disappoint. Barr-Reeve came away with a convincing 69-49 win and in the process found theselves and exposed some areas for Linton.
Barr-Reeve has a great TEAM and truthfully this is nothing new. The Vikings have a great set of role players that make plays when needed and don't make mistakes. Barr-Reeve returns 2 starters from a 23-3 season in 2019 6' SG Gabe Gladish and 2020 6'8" PF Keegan O'Neill. These returning starters provide the bulk of the Vikings scoring. Gladish has had a slow start to the season, but last night he got on track with 28 points. Gladish has a very smooth outside shot with range and can get to the rim quite easily. O'Neill has done the bulk of his damage from the paint with post moves and short jumpers, but last night showed a glimpse of how he is developing his game by putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the rim. He has a very nice looking shot and is able to step out and hit threes, just not consistently. Barr-Reeve will win a lot of games again this year and should make a very deep run in the tourney
Linton had been dominating opponents this season. They came in averaging 69 ppg and holding opponents to 30ppg. Linton has 5 guys who can legitimately shoot the 3. As a team they had 11. Last night 2020 6'3' SG Kip Fougerousse and 2021 6'3" SG Lincoln Hale stole the show for the Miners. Fougerousse, committed to play baseball for IU, has volleyball line range and scored all 15 of his points from this area. The Freshman Hale had 18 points and knocked down 4 threes of his own. The lack of a dominating inside player really hurts Linton on both offense and defense. They allowed Barr-Reeve to get to the rim with ease on defense and on offense they have to rely on the three and occasional drive to the basket.
This week’s Starting Five are five players in the 2019 class, regardless of current recruited level, taking a step up in their game.
Paxon Bartley, 6'3" shooting guard; Oakland City (Wood Memorial) - Pocket City
Bartley began the Spring hot, taking over as the vocal leader of the Pocket City Basketball 2019 team. A plus athlete, Bartley is beginning to gain confidence in his outside shot that is allowing his first step to be even more lethal against defenders. Transitioning from small school Indiana high school basketball to high level grassroots basketball was less of burden for Bartley so far this Spring.
For Bartley, his college level will be dependent on his willingness to take open jump shots and his ability to defend ball handlers. His athleticism combined with his strong frame make him a match up problem at the 16u age level, if he continues to develop and stays passionate.
Armaan Franklin, 6'4" shooting guard; Fishers - UA G3 GRIND
The development of Franklin's range has only made his driving ability even more of a weapon. While he still needs to drive with more certainty going to his left, his strength has been getting to the rim with his right. He's also finding teammates better off the dribble.
Franklin has improved off the ball defensively, able to make plays with his length, and a couple of times a game, he's able to get out in transition where he really thrives.
Mason Gillis, 6'5" power forward; New Castle - UA G3 GRIND
One of the best athletes in the 2019 class, Gillis has put more time toward basketball in the summer, and it's paying off. He's excellent in the paint, active on the glass on both ends. His motor overall is at a high level.
Away from the paint his game is skill set is still very much a work in progress, but it is improving. At 6'5", he's undersized for a PF at higher levels, but his ability to get the basket is improved from the beginning of his sophomore season. Gillis' jump shot will ultimately decide what level he plays in college, just being more of a threat away from the paint, but his improved mechanics (more fluid of a shot) provides a good glimpse of what his shot could be.
Max Newman, 6'7" power forward; Monrovia - Grand Park Premier - Thompson
One of the state's leading rebounders, Newman rebounds out of his area, and he can be a rip and run type of offensive threat. Getting used to better athletes in the summer season is an adjustment, but his ability to make plays in the half court off the dribble has been a pleasant surprise this summer.
Newman has 3pt range, something that will be more necessary during his school season next season, and the next step in his game will be scoring and having offense run through him. He sees the floor extremely well off the catch. Creating a shot for others will be big as he becomes a bigger focal point in Monrovia's offense.
Craig Young, 6'6" power forward; Fort Wayne Wayne - Indy Heat
If there is a better athlete among bigs than Gillis, it's Young. Young is one of the top track athletes in Fort Wayne, and ultimately, football may be his best sport. What sets him apart is his defensive ability on the perimeter, and his ability to make plays on that end of the floor. He's able to get into the gap, as well as protect the rim.
His offensive skill set is developing, and as could be imagined, he's impressive on the offensive glass. Good in the low post, he's at his best driving from mid-range.
This week's Starting Five are five players in the 2018 class, regardless of current recruited level, taking a step up in their game. (Keeping mind our solo feature on Ben Davis' Aaron Henry from yesterday.)
Robin Duncan, 6'4" point guard; Evansville (Harrison)
We might be running out of Duncans, and Robin might be the best of the bunch, especially in terms of impact on the game. Thus far this spring, Duncan has shown an offensive versatility, able to score in the post off cuts, as well as getting to and finishing at the rim.
Duncan is a true point guard who shows leadership on the court for his Pocket City AAU team. He currently holds offers from American, Ball State, IUPUI, UT Martin, and Vermont (obviously).
Walter Ellis, 6'5" shooting guard; South Bend (Adams)
Ellis' play off the dribble has caught up to his outside shot, and it's making him a double threat off the catch. His defense has been solid, and it stands to improve as he gets stronger.
His offer to California was via Coach Martin, who has since moved to Missouri, but Ellis also holds offers from Ball State, Indiana State, IUPUI, and Valparaiso.
Hayden Langkabel, 6'0" point guard; Morristown HS
He started coming on last summer, and he had a huge season production wise during his school season. Langkabel finishes at the rim better than one would figure, and he is sneaky athletic. His shot off the dribble has improved.
Langkabel is a willing defender, and while he holds an offer from St. Francis, look for D2 programs to take an interest after the summer.
Trent Miller, 6'3" shooting guard; Pendleton (Heights)
Hidden amid this shooter's game is Miller's ability to create plays for others off the dribble. He's not a point guard, but as one of the top shooters in the 2018 class, he's able to take advantage of defenders who choose to run him off the line.
Tyler Watson, 6'1" point guard; Lizton (Tri-West)
Watson does a lot of things on the court. Primarily scoring and setting up teammates, he's a capable defender who can makes plays on that end of the court. His playmaking has shown improvement this summer, and he's cut down on his mistakes, making less risky decisions.
I've long been a fan of Ben Davis, 2018 wing, Aaron Henry. He's a physical player, a willing to great defender, and rebounds his position well. All of this speaks to his motor overall, and he has HM athleticism and a HM body. It's time for HM's to get more involved with Henry.
His biggest knocks were two things, as he has transitioned more of a 4 to a pure 3:
- No right hand
- Inconsistent to shaky outside shot
It's not conclusive at this point, but on the biggest stage, the 4A state championship game, Henry made two huge second half drives beating his defender to his right. Perhaps it was a read and just a show of faith to coaching, in the Fort Wayne North was sitting on his right hand, but he drove right, beat his man going right, and finished over size going to his right.
He's at a point with his shot that an open 3 is a good shot for him, and while his game off the dribble is mostly a floater game, it's becoming more and more the norm even from bigger players. He can bully his defender off the dribble, so he can finish in the paint with contact. As he becomes more comfortable shooting over his defender from range, or getting to a 3 or mid-range jump shot off one bounce, his offensive questions will start to be answered.
He's even gotten to a point where teams, Ben Davis and his Team Harris summer team, are running offense through him. He's efficient off the dribble making plays for others.