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Posted On: 06/11/18 10:43 AM
Already pretty well-known, it looks like Brandon Barron is going to make even more of a name for himself as a senior. He made defenders look helpless on Monday with his ball-handling and athletic ability. When his outside shot is falling, there is not much you can do to stop him. Kalik Brooks, another rising senior, will also have to play a big role for the Raiders. He has grown some and was very aggressive on Monday. Brooks rebounds well, can handle the ball, and is showing improvement in his scoring ability. I think the Raiders could get solid production out of Josh Spencer and Kyle Hulsman as well. Spencer is mobile and very active on both ends while Hulsman has proven he can be a threat from deep on catch and shoot opportunities.
The Greyhounds always find their way towards the top of their region and I believe they’ll still be able to this year as well. Seniors Ryan Billig and Micah Paulk should both have solid seasons. Billig has come a long way in fully developing as a guard; he is skilled and confident with the ball in his hands. Paulk is a reliable outside shooter with nice strength who is also looking to be more of a facilitator. After not playing much last year, 2021 guard Will Kolker appears to be determined to prove himself. He shot the ball very well last Monday and is an excellent passer too. Khi Wilson was not in action in the game I saw Monday but he will give Pope another backcourt threat and I think 2020 forward Ross Shepherd could play a nice role for the Greyhounds.
With the loss of some key seniors, West Forsyth will be looking for guys to step up and lead them this year. Broc Bidwell will be one of them. Rising senior Payton Aiken did not play Tuesday so Bidwell took it upon himself to handle the scoring load, showing a wide array of skills. West Forsyth will look to Bidwell for lots of offensive production this year. 2019 Mikhari Sibblis will also be an important piece for the Wolverines, his big football build will help them inside. He is not the tallest post player, but creates problems in the paint because of his strength. I expect 2020 guards Jack Bock and Nick Zabetakis to step up for West also, and 2021 forward Tyler Lane should be a consistent contributor.
The Patriots only played 1 game on Tuesday, but I liked what I saw from the guard-oriented group. 2019 guards Loi Axem and Jalen Durham played well in particular, giving Berkmar a huge boost with their outside shooting. Both were efficient and displayed some nice chemistry, finding each other in the right spots for easy shots. After watching them at the Adidas MDC with Game Elite, 2021 prospects Jaron Ford and Dara Olonande had some good moments again last week. Ford is a confident young guard who defends well and can score. He connected on some outside shots and created plays off the dribble. Olonande continues to make you wonder what he could become as his skill develops; he is aggressive and has a great body and athleticism for a young forward.
I was able to see Duluth on both Tuesday and Thursday. After somewhat of a rough game on Tuesday where shots just didn’t fall, the Wildcats picked it up at the Summer Explosion. Transfer Jalyn Hickman is not having much trouble fitting in with his new team. He looks comfortable and confident, changing speeds effectively to score in the paint while mixing in some perimeter shots. Hector Rosario and Jordan Blue are also ready for bigger roles this year. Both play with lots of energy, make an impact on defense, and have shown that they can be reliable scoring options. Forwards Jonathan Bell and Trent Gordon have impressed me as well. Bell is a long, athletic forward with nice touch and an effective 15-foot jumper off the dribble. Gordon provides Duluth with a quick-twitch athlete who gets physical and tough inside. He is a good rebounder and will not hesitate to go through bodies in traffic to get to the rim.
The Cougars are a pretty young team but will be anchored down in the paint by senior forward Grant Van Beveren. He looked really good at the Summer Explosion, making quick decisions in the paint and battling through contact. He also showed he can hit mid-range shots and made some good passes out of the post. 2021 AJ White and 2020 Cam Sheffield will lead the Hooch backcourt this year. White has impressive scoring ability for a rising sophomore, getting it done on all 3 levels with ease and always looking to take the big shot. Sheffield had a good spring with Game Elite but should have an even bigger role with Chattahoochee. He has good size on the wing and is a confident shooter. Sheffield has some ability off the dribble also and it looks like he is making an effort to do the dirty work inside. 2020 guard Franklin Bailey is another guy to keep an eye; he is a fast guard who can get hot from the outside quickly.
Moving to the GHSA this year, Mt. Bethel looks ready to make some noise in A-Private. They don’t have tons of depth but their top 4 is tough to deal with. Inside are Jordan Meka and Stanley Eze, who both play with all-out energy whenever they’re on the court. Eze is versatile for a forward, showing some ball-handling and slashing ability to go with his mid-range shooting and rebounding. Meka is a freak athlete for his size and makes an impact on both ends with his athletic ability. He throws down huge dunks, alters almost every shot in the paint, and looks much more confident offensively than he did this spring with the Stars. Coleman Boyd and Jayce Harrison will be manning the Eagle backcourt. Harrison uses his quickness and shifty ball-handling to make things happen in the paint but can also be a dangerous outside shooter. Boyd is a smart, mature guard who can score but has embraced being a floor general and getting easy looks for his teammates.