Posted On: 03/31/18 10:00 AM
There are only a handful of players that are contributors on quality teams as freshman and here’s a look at what they brought to their respective teams in 2017-18. The class of 2021 is shaping up to be a special one in Southeast Louisiana (New Orleans to Baton Rouge) and all eight of these players have bright futures ahead of them.
Jamond Vincent — Landry-Walker 6’2” SG/SF
Vincent will be among the cream of the crop in Louisiana’s 2021 class. He already has great size at about 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and is squarely in the rotation for a perennial power in Landry-Walker, the runner-up in this year’s Class 5A playoffs. Vincent, better known as “Turk”, had a strong performance in the Class 5A title game scoring 10 points with four rebounds and four big blocks, three of which came against the next player on this list.
He also led the Chargin’ Bucs in scoring in a couple of games during the back half of the regular season and will likely be a mid to high-major player when all is said and done. As of now, he’s best using his strength and quickness to attack off the dribble and finish above the rim, but he also has a smooth jump shot that will get more consistent as he develops and gains confidence. Vincent will also be able to guard at a high level on the perimeter and he’s going to be fun to watch over the next few seasons.
Brian Thomas — Walker 6’3” G
Thomas burst onto the scene in the Class 5A state championship earning Most Outstanding Player of the game in a wild comeback win for the Wildcats in overtime. He put up a game-high 20 points with eight rebounds and hit some clutch free throws down the stretch including two to tie it at 52-52 in the final minute. He’s incredibly explosive and does his best work in transition where he can use his speed and athleticism to get to the rim and finish or draw fouls.
Thomas also competes at a high level and shows the foot speed and determination necessary to be a plus-defender making him a threat on both ends of the court. Like Vincent, he came off the bench on a deep Walker squad as a freshman and he’s sure to have an even bigger role on the team as a sophomore. He reeled in an offer from Texas A&M shortly after the championship game.
Javon Ruffin — Newman 6’4” SG
Not many players have the advantage of growing up around NBA players and trainers but Ruffin has had just that as the son of Pelicans Director of Player Personnel Michael Ruffin. Ruffin is already one of the metro area’s elite shooters and he should only get better with time. He also displays good toughness and athleticism with his ability to rebound in traffic but could improve in end-of-game situations and attacking the rim with more regularity. Ruffin has played a key role in Newman’s 20-plus win season this year alongside senior Riley Demps and he’s in the top echelon of Louisiana’s 2021 prospects along with Vincent and Thomas. He recently received his first offer from Tulane.
Will Allen — Bonnabel 6’7” F
Allen was the anchor in the middle this past season for Bonnabel, a No. 7 seed and quarterfinalist in Class 5A. He has a great motor coupled with toughness in the paint and battles for every single rebound that comes off the rim. Allen is also a great rim protector that consistently alters shots and he’s a serviceable player on the offensive end as well. His hands could improve a bit but he has good footwork and has displayed some touch around the basket while always going up strong when scoring opportunities present themselves.
Theo Johnson — Bonnabel 5’9” PG
Johnson is a quick, aggressive point guard with a lot of potential on the offensive end. He has a great handle that makes it difficult for defenders to stay in front of him and he’s also a very capable shooter from long range. Johnson made his way into the starting lineup for Bonnabel over the back half of the season and made the Bruins a much tougher team to guard with top 2018 PG T.J. Collins manning the other guard spot.
Ja’Kobe Walker — De La Salle 5’10” PG
Walker will be a factor for De La Salle in the years to come and logged solid minutes off the bench this year for a deep Cavs team. He has good end-to-end speed, makes good decisions as a lead guard, and he’s a capable scorer at the rim and from 3-point range.
Gage Larvadain — Riverside 5’6” PG
Larvadain is a lefty much in the mold of Johnson — a super quick lead guard with a great handle. He was a solid backup ball handler for one of the top teams in the state this past season and even saw a few minutes on the floor as an eighth-grader. The Rebels will lose a healthy dose of seniors this offseason, which will give Larvadain a great chance to flourish under the tutelage of legendary coach Timmy Byrd, whose teams always operate at a fast pace.
Alex Hammond — McMain 2022 6’1 PG/SG
Hammond is still just an eighth-grader but he’s already getting it done on the varsity level at McMain. Very much in the mold of his older brother at Sophie B. Wright, Gregory Hammond, Alex is a flat out scorer who can put the ball in the basket with the best of them. The Mustangs are still a young team but were competitive this year totaling 19 wins and they’ll be a team to watch out for over the next few seasons with Hammond leading the way.