Posted On: 08/15/18 5:44 AM
If you haven’t noticed by now, the first version of 2021 rankings went up on Monday. Those have been at least a year in the making and we’re happy to put them out into the atmosphere. If you’re interested enough to read this article, you should probably check those out.
The syllabus for today is to tackle the shooting guards, combo guards, and specialist off-ball guards throughout those 2021 rankings. We’ll touch on strengths, weaknesses, and situations for the rising sophomores who fall into those categories and others.
At a Glance
Total SGs ranked: 26
Top Ten: 3
Top 25: 5
Top NEO SG: Meechie Johnson (6 total)
Top Central Ohio SG: Chance Groce (10 total)
Top Southern Ohio SG: Anthony McComb (8 total)
Top NWO SG: Josh Thorbahn (2 total)
Top Tier: Meechie Johnson, Chance Groce, EJ Farmer, Anthony McComb
Sleepers: Trey Woodyard, Allen Lattimore
Like we did yesterday with their point guard peers, this article is going to breakdown 2021 prospects into specific categories. But the really good 2-guards don’t fit a specific descrpiption as much. Although shooting guard has become a super specialized position at the highest level of basketball (i.e. Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, etc.), these young bucks near the top of the class have a little bit of everything right now — our first two categories will address those guys.
#1 Meechie Johnson, 6’0”, Garfield Heights / Hard Work Basketball – White 16U
Johnson set the record straight on how legitimate of a prospect he is in early December when he dropped a 50-ball at Benedictine. He likes to get to high scoring totals 3 points at a time. Johnson not only has range, he also gets rid of it quick, is super aggressive off the dribble or catch, can create space going side-to-side, and stops on a dime for transition pull-ups.
It will be interesting to see if he transitions to more of a point guard role at the high school level. He’ll likely be more of a primary ball-handler at the college level, which would make sense for his measurables. This summer, we liked the way he handled lead guard responsibilities as a passer, especially in the open floor. If he’s bringing the ball up, his scoring ability puts a lot of pressure on the defense.
#6 Chance Groce, 6’4”, Beechcroft / Columbus 101
Groce is a bad boy with the ball in his hands. The springy wing scorer has a nice first step, good length, and a hell of a jump shot. Those strengths allow him to catch on the wing, size up a defender, jab step them into bad positioning, and hit triples without even putting it on the floor. He can also rebound in traffic and push transition, although he prefers a half-court game.
Groce’s upside in his body development. Even at the varsity level for Linden-McKinley last year, Groce penetrated past the initial defender with regularity, but he was too undeveloped above the waist to finish in traffic efficiently. Defenders bumped his off his spots with sound defense. While Groce still scored with craft within 10 feet, being able to finish with explosiveness and power could move him onto high-major priority lists.
#8 EJ Farmer, 6’4”, Lutheran East / All Ohio Red
The lefty from NEO has legitimate height and a body that we expect to fill out nicely. But Famer’s biggest threat is the jumper. Kid shoots the crap out of the ball, whether it’s contested or not. We love his confidence, but it will be necessary for him to pick his spots a little more thoughtfully. Farmer shoots it with a nice high-release and is a big fan of the one-dribble pull-up.
Farmer has an early edge on the rest of his classmates as the best shooting specialist in the 2-guard class; but his early known commodity begs the question of, will he add more to his offensive game? The quick twitch athlete has shown flashes of playmaking ability for others off the dribble, but not on a consistent basis. Despite his size, he’s not super poised in the lane. We like him as a defender though, where he uses length and quick hands in the passing lanes.
#13 Anthony McComb, 6’2”, Thurgood Marshall / NEO Tru Game
We believe in McComb and think he’s egregiously low in a different version of 2021 rankings that came out this week (sorry Corey). You can’t teach McComb’s quickness, length, and ability to get to the rim. Although most of his points came at the basket for Tru Game, he did shoot 38 percent from 3 at Thurgood this season. He’s also a high-motor defensive player that causes turnovers and puts pressure on ball-handlers.
#24 Jonah Waag, 5’11”, VASJ / TNBA East Black
Waag can play both guards spots, has a nice frame for attacking the basket, shoots it well off the bounce, and is a disciplined player on both ends. Although he could play third wheel in the VASJ 2021 class in his career, his efficient wing scoring ability will be paramount to their success. He has the ability to take over games with shot-making.
#29 Josh Thorbahn, 6’4”, Ottoville / Indy Heat Red
Thorbahn is a well-rounded scorer that can take what the defense gives him all night long. A smaller guard will have problems against his filled out frame and interior footwork. He can also hit from deep or facilitate offense with the ball. Thorbahn is a legitimate rebounder at his size and he has it together upstairs. Findlay pulled the trigger on him super early with an offer, but a little physical growth could push him above their level.
#37 Brady Lichtenberg, 6’2”, Toledo St. John’s / All Ohio Gold (McWhinnie)
Lichtenberg played varsity basketball and football last year but made more early waves as the starting quarterback at SJJ. For the storied basketball program, he was a spot-up shooter. But playing varsity as a freshman isn’t a normal occurrence over there on Airport Highway, even if your role is solely to high five guys during timeouts — so to be depended on to take shots is an accomplishment.
Lichtenberg proved in the grassroots season that he can bring more to the game than catch-and-shoot. We liked his IQ as a team defender, where he was in position and communicating with teammates. In general, he has a good presence. Offensively, he plays with good balance on the wing and can create shots efficiently. He also can play point guard.
Shooting specialist is a good place to be in 2018. It’s second to none as far as ball skills go. A 5’10” kid in Fairmont’s 2018 class, Jack Hendricks, just walked on to Wright State because of his 42 percent outside shot. Hendricks didn’t really create off the dribble and 376 of his 598 varsity field goal attempts were from beyond the arch. I’m not sure he walks on to the reigning Horizon League champion roster if it’s 2010. But the time is right for Hendricks and the nine shooting specialists in this category.
#30 Trey Woodyard, 6’5”, London / NEO Tru Game
Woodyard is a future 1,000-point-club guy at London. He can score inside with size, but most of those points are a product of defenders overcommitting to his shooting threat. He has really good size as a 2, although his frame is far from being fully developed. Woodyard operates with nice balance on his pull-ups.
#57 Tre Massey, 6’2” G, Strongsville / SMAC
Massey really made an impression on us in Louisville at the All In HoopFest. We watched the kid for portions of three games that weekend, and he was their best scorer every time. Massey moves well without the ball when he’s engaged. He can shoot it from distance and hits pull-ups, but he needs separation because of a low release. He may need to tweak the shooting mechanics, but there’s a lot to be excited about here.
#76 Jackson Izzard, 6’0”, Alder / Mid Ohio Pumas Elite
This summer, Izzard proved he can shoot it and play alongside good players, an underrated skill for a shooter. Izzard isn’t going to be the focal point of the offense for the Pumas ever, but he made steady contributions by always being ready for the kick-out and flying in for opportune rebounds. He pushes the ball confidently and meshes within a motion style offense. Never a liability on either end. Plays with purpose and poise.
Others: Gabe Elsawy (#61), Cam Fancher (#84), Adonis Caneris (#85), Brock Waits (#86), Keaton Norris (#87), Peter Pedroza (#93)
Nobody is waiting for these players to kick it to their point guard if they find themselves with the rock in the backcourt. While all can score it from the wing and play off-ball, they also like to initiate and create offense. Also, most of these kids are in a point guard body but their score-first disposition puts them into a 2-guard category.
#35 Allen Lattimore, 6’0”, Stivers / Dayton Wolves
Without question, my favorite research nugget of the past week is finding out that Lattimore shot 61 percent from deep on 71 3-point attempts last year. I texted like five people about this to make sure this wasn’t a misprint. Nah. The kid can really stroke it. But he can also handle with quickness and made crafty shots around the basket. Lattimore has crazy upside if he can grow. Makes for a great 1-2 punch at Stivers with 2020 guard Trevon Ellis.
#36 Isaac Settles, 6’4”, Thomas Worthington / Ohio Hoopsters (Tillman)
The thing Settles did consistently this grassroots season was use his size intelligently. In the spring, Settles was playing a lot of point guard, where he’d dissect defenses by seeing over their smaller guards from the top of the key. Then he did the same thing on the attack. Occasionally, he would take scoring into his own hands as a power slasher. He doesn’t play on his heels.
Although he seems more comfortable as a point guard, we know he’ll be playing off-ball at TWHS with Jalen Sullinger in the mix. His size makes him more of a 2 anyways. Being a better outside shooter is the next step for him.
#55 Kaden Warner, 5’10”, Gamble Montessori / BTC Trojans 16U
Warner is a big-time volume scorer and competitor. He really blew us away against All Ohio Red 2020 for a stretch of a pool play game at the Super 16. Warner was pulling up from NBA range in transition (a shot he takes often, probably a little too often), talking that talk, and picking pockets on defense. He has good hands defensively and likes to apply pressure. The kid can really shoot it. Consistency is the issue, but he shows flashes of excellence and he’s super exciting to watch.
#80 Garrison Budd, 5’11”, Bishop Ready / Hidden Gems Black
Budd plays a calculated basketball game with his methodical handle and pass-first mentality. When he scores, it’s mostly going to be on catch-and-shoot. But he can be the primary ball-handler with second units because of the IQ. More than anything, we like him defensively. Although he’s not a superior athlete, he plays hard and understands angles.
Others: Sirr Hughes (#33), Austin Webb (#96)
The reason this section is only three deep is because most of the slashers fit better into the Major Potential, All Around Players, and Combo Guard categories. Truthfully, these three probably could’ve been placed elsewhere also. However, getting to the cup is by far these guys’ best strength.
#40 Makhale Massey, 6’3”, Northland / Hidden Gems Platinum
Massey wasn’t really heard from much at Northland last year — partially because of injury, partially because of their other perimeter talent. Expect that to change in a major way next year, as both of those factors are largely a thing of the past. The Vikes will need his scoring and he can do that by getting into the lane with craft. His shooting mechanics are very good, but he didn’t hit with consistency this summer. Massey also impresses as a high-IQ defender with good athleticism. He’s older than most 2021ers.
#70 Marcus Stewart, 6’3”, The Wellington School / C2K Elite
A lefty scorer that can shoot it but has more to add as a shifty kid with a smooth finishing package. Like Massey, Stewart will likely be asked to take on a more burdensome scoring role as a sophomore. Improving his strength is going to help him as a finisher, as he’s already skilled enough to get into the lane.