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Posted On: 07/16/18 2:08 PM
Although the live period has begun for the month of July and the majority of the focus is on the AAU scene, I’m always the type that likes to look into the future and try to set the scene for what’s to come. I’ll start off by taking a look at some of the top point guards in the Baltimore area heading into the 2018-19 season. The area is loaded with talent, making the lists extremely difficult to sort, but nevertheless, some players have used the spring and early portions of summer to make themselves known.
10. Jermaine Goodwyn | 6’2 | Milford Mill
Goodwyn will have a lot to prove this upcoming season. With Milford graduating key seniors from last year’s team such as Ahmed Milton, Jordan Goodwin and Eric Turner, the Millers will be in desperate need of a player who can not only facilitate the offense, but also replace the scoring that the trio listed above had produced. Last season, Goodwyn was more of a role player being featured as a first guy off the bench. This winter, the ball will be put into his hands and he’ll be depended upon to lead the Millers back to the Xfinity Center where they lost to Poly in the Class 3A state title game. He has the skill set to be both a floor general and a scorer, but whether he can put the two together is yet to be seen.
9. Malik McCormick | 5’11 | Dunbar/Team Thrill
McCormick had a productive junior season as he helped the Poets capture yet another Class 1A state championship. However, with Da’Shawn Phillip graduating and Jamal West transferring to St. Frances, McCormick is going to have to carry the load this upcoming season. He was able to play off of Phillip’s play making ability by roaming around the perimeter and knocking down three’s. This season, he’ll likely be called on as more of a primary ball handler who will have to score in bunches if the Poets want to relive success from last year’s team.
8. Ausar Crawley ’21 | 5’8 | Mt. St. Joseph/Team Thrill
Crawley improved steadily in his freshman season with the Gaels. Game by game, he became more comfortable with the speed and physicality the MIAA Conference brings. Thus far this spring/summer, Crawley has had a productive stint with Team Thrill on a talents 15U team. I last saw Crawley at Towson Team Camp where he showed improvement in his outside jumpshot and willingness to get inside the lane and collapse the defense.
7. Darrius Tilghman ’21 | 6’3 | City/Team Thrill
Tilghman is a guy who has the potential to move way up on this list. After a freshman season at Calvert Hall, the 6-foot-3 guard transfers to a City team that will have some talent and led by Tilghman, has a chance to make some noise in Baltimore City. Tilghman’s body and overall athleticism continue to develop, which has bled into his ability to score from all three levels. He will be a guy that plays and guards multiple positions, but when the game is on the line, he’ll have the ball in his hands initiating the offense.
6. TJ Thomas ’19 | 6’2 | Patterson/Team BBC
Thomas’ role for Patterson just got that much more important after the Clippers secured key big man transfers. Patterson struggled last season due to lack of depth and overall size, but now with a lineup that could feature Thomas at 6-foot-2, Gerard Mungo at 6-foot-1, Marvin Price at 6-foot-5, Emmanuel Balogun at 6-foot-7 and John Ojiako at 6-foot-9, you won’t find a bigger lineup in the city. Thomas is a solid floor general that knows how to set up teammates where they are most effective. When called upon, he can also get buckets from three or inside the paint. If their roster stays constructed as planned, Thomas could very well be orchestrating the Clippers to another 2A state title when it’s all said and done.
5. Jalen Rucker ’19 | 5’11 | Gilman/Team Melo
Rucker is one of the most fun players to watch in Baltimore if you enjoy watching a guy who plays 110 percent every minute he is on the floor. Even in summer league, he’s taking charges, talking to his teammates and playing each game as if it was a conference championship. His efforts will be needed for a young, talented Gilman team that looks to shock people in the MIAA A Conference. Young players often feed off of the best player’s body language and attitude. Rucker is the perfect guy for this situation and is the type to create a culture that lasts at Gilman years after he departs.
4. Martaz Robinson ’20 | 6’2 | New Town/Team BBC
Robinson has improved this spring/summer more than anyone on this list. Not only physically, but overall on the floor. He’s becoming more savvy with how he controls the pace of the game and when to pick and choose his spots to score. He can score almost whenever he wants, but often penetrates to create open looks for others. Sometimes, Robinson can be too unselfish and with his scoring ability, should be more aggressive late in games when the score is close. His physicality has improved and he’s starting to become a plus rebounder for his position. New Town will have a talented roster this season on paper, but it’ll be up to Robinson to help reach their potential in Baltimore County.
3. Rahim Ali ’20 | 5’11 | Poly/Team Thrill
Similar to Rucker, Ali plays with a fire and energy that are hard to come by these days. Their passion on the floor comes out as soon as the ball is thrown in the air. Heading into his junior season, Ali already has two Class 3A state titles on his resume. With his improved jumpshot and talent surrounding him such as Justin Lewis (2020), it’s no surprise to say that the Engineers are expected to protect their state title again next season. Unlike some of the others on this list, Ali has proven he can engineer a team to the top.
2. Ryan Conway ’21 | 6’1 | Dulaney/Team Melo
Conway has been a guard that can do it all since he was handed the ball last season as a freshman from Dulaney head coach Matt Lochte. He can score from all three levels and has elite ability to break his man down off the dribble. The Lions will have the most talent they’ve had in years this upcoming season and finally have an inside presence with John Carroll transfer Cameron Byers. Conway will be equipped with scorers at each position. What will be remained to be seen is his willingness to become a distributor. Conway isn’t a selfish player by any means, but all great scorers at the point guard position must also be able to make others around them better. Conway will get that chance this season.
1. Ace Baldwin ’20 | 6’1 | St. Frances/Team BBC
Baldwin being number one on this list should surprise no one. The 6-foot-1 southpaw has been racking up offers since the high school season came to a close and continues to receive interest from blue blood programs such as North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas. Baldwin is currently nursing a broken hand, but should be back by mid-August as he prepares to keep St. Frances among the top 25 schools in the country as he did last season. He’ll have a couple of new weapons to work with aside from the talented returners from last year’s squad. In terms of success in the Baltimore area, Baldwin is expected to separate St. Frances from the pack and once again be a powerhouse in the MIAA A Conference.