Posted On: 12/31/17 8:30 AM
The first half of the season has seen plenty of standout performances and some great basketball. Below, we take a look at ten of the breakout players from the season’s first month.
6-4 PF Landon Borrett (Jesup, 2020)
The sophomore big man was recently named our Player of the Week after a week in which he posted games of 21 points, 15 rebounds and 18 points, 20 rebounds. Before those outbursts, he was averaging 8.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. Solid numbers but nothing special. It’ll be interesting to see if the big games continue after the break for the J-Hawks.
6-0 SG Dawson Stoll (Northeast Goose Lake, 2019)
The Rebels have been perhaps the biggest surprise team of the young season, running out to a 9-0 record despite losing a number of key contributors from last year’s team. And Stoll is a big reason why. He’s become one of the state’s best perimeter shooters, knocking down 24 3s in the first half of the season at a 43.6% clip. He’s second on the team in scoring at 16.3 points a game (just behind Luke Empen at 16.6), is second in assists and leads the team in steals. He averaged just 3.3 points a game and shot 31.6% from the arc last season, so his emergence has been a pleasant surprise.
6-5 G Caden Kickbush (Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 2018)
We had a feeling Kickbush would be among the biggest breakouts in the state following the graduation of Joe Smoldt, and the 6-5 wing has been great for the Rebels. He leads the team in scoring, averaging 21 points a game, and is second in rebounding. He showed flashes of big-time offensive talent last season playing alongside Smoldt, and now he’s showcasing it nightly. If the Rebels are able to make another state tournament trip (it would be their fourth straight), it’ll be Kickbush who carries them there.
6-2 PG JaQwan Jackson (Waterloo Columbus, 2019)
Jackson caught our attention at the Iowa Dynasty Fall League back in September, and he’s been really good for the Sailors this season. He’s averaging 23.2 points a game, leads the team in assists and steals, and is shooting nearly 50% from the floor. A strong, physical guard who can routinely get to the rim and finish, he’s been one of the best scorers in Class 2A this season.
5-9 SG Dante Eldridge (Iowa City West, 2019)
Coming into the season, perhaps the biggest question for the Trojans was who would emerge as the third scorer alongside Patrick McCaffery and Seybian Sims. So far, that answer has been Eldridge. The 5-9 junior was on the varsity roster to start last season before moving down to get minutes with the sophomore team. He moved to Iowa City last year after his father, Courtney, took the video coordinator position at Iowa. He’s been electric at times this season, averaging 12.7 points a game for the Trojans and emerging as the team’s best perimeter shooter. He’s knocked down 16 of 37 attempts from the arc through their first seven games (43.2%), is tied for the team lead in assists, and is second in steals.
6-5 F Andre Brandon (Iowa City Liberty, 2020)
A 6-5 combo forward who does a majority of his damage around the rim right now, but is working on expanding his game, Brandon has been really good for the Lightning in their first season as a school. When we first saw Brandon at the Dynasty Fall League before his freshman season, he couldn’t really do much on the floor other than rebound and score on putbacks. Now, he’s developed a really solid offensive game and he’s turning into a solid ball handler who can score at all three levels. He’s averaging 15.4 points (on 57.9% shooting, no less), leads the team in rebounding, steals and blocks, and is third in assists. Watch for Brandon to become one of the best players in 3A moving forward.
6-2 SG Koby Hardcastle (ADM, Adel, 2019)
Someone needed to step up for ADM after the Tigers lost nearly their entire roster to graduation last year, and so far it has been Hardcastle. He’s averaging a team best 15.2 points, and has shown the ability to score at all three levels.
5-10 SG Cade Fuller (Dike-New Hartford, 2019)
Fuller leads a Wolverines team that has been a pleasant surprise this season, finishing the first part of the year with a 6-2 record. He leads the team averaging 17.1 points and ranking third in assists and second in steals. He’s a gifted scoring guard capable of doing so at all three levels, and is a name to monitor over the next year-and-a-half, as the Wolverines will return everyone to next year’s roster, when they should be considered one of the favorites in Class 2A.
6-2 SF Darius Moore (Clear Creek-Amana, 2018)
The 6-2 senior forward moved to CCA from Sioux City West over the summer and has put together a really strong start to his final season with the Clippers. He’s averaging a team-high 21.1 points, leads the team in steals and assists, and is second in rebounding. His future is probably on the gridiron, where he’s a standout receiver, but his emergence as a go-to scorer on the hardwood has been a pleasant surprise over the first month.
6-2 SG Devonte Thedford (Des Moines Hoover, 2018)
For years now, Hoover has had one go-to scorer and a lot of role players who also contribute. And while their scoring is a bit more balanced this season, it’s Thedford who has emerged as the go-to scorer, leading the team with 18.6 points a game. He also leads the team in rebounding, nearly doubling up Nick Johnson, who ranks second on the team. An athletic, slashing guard, Thedford does a majority of his damage by getting to the rim or knocking down mid-range jumpers. He’s only attempted 11 shots from behind the arc. He projects as a quality Division II guard prospect.