The 2021 Small Forwards: Skilled and Athletic Wings, Defenders, and Shooters

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Posted On: 08/16/18 10:44 AM

If you’ve followed since Monday, after this one you’re through 70 of the 97 prospects ranked in 2021. We hope you’re enjoying the deep dives on these young prospects, where we give our first impressions on their skill-set and weaknesses, of which everybody has and shouldn’t be viewed as disrespect. 

At a Glance

Total SFs ranked: 21

Top Ten: 1

Top 25: 6

 

Top NWO SF: Kalen Etzler (7 total)

Top Central Ohio SF: Garner Wallace (4 total)

Top NEO SF: Kobe Johnson (2 total)

Top Southern Ohio SF: Demari Martin (8 total)

 

Top Tier: Kalen Etzler, Garner Wallace, Kobe Johnson, Jamiya Neal, Demari Martin, Amarion Dickerson, William McCracken

Sleepers: AJ Adams

 

Skilled Wings

This is sort of yesterday’s version of All Around Shooting Guards. These four guys have pretty complete skill-sets, yet undeveloped physical tools. Their upside as a prospects range all over the map, based on body type. However, their expansive tool box of skills is ahead of others in their class.

#10 Kalen Etzler, 6’7”, Convoy Crestview / All Ohio Red

Etzler stands 6’7”-6’8” and shoots the ball with a collegiate stroke — high above his head and quickly. The lengthy versatile forward primarily scores via the jumper, but for All Ohio Red he also made plays for others with off-ball activity. He makes occasional dives to the basket for quick post-ups and is an active pick-and-pop guy who built chemistry with their ball-handlers. Etzler also runs the floor like a wing.

Although he could be considered a stretch 4, we think he’ll defend the 3 in college. His frame is thin but his arms and foot speed should allow him to contest shots at the perimeter while being in position to cut-off drives. He also rebounds quite well with his size and quick bounce. Adding weight is the biggest key for Etzler, but his upside is clearly top-notch and he could’ve been ranked higher.

#12 Kobe Johnson, 6’3”, Canton McKinley / All Ohio Red

Johnson gets to the rack with a combination of physicality and ball-handling. Doesn’t blow-by guys, but can finish through traffic and understands when to kick-out. He’s a one-on-one guy that can carry an offense if he has the ball in his hands.

#32 Isaiah Walker, 6’2”, Wyoming / Cincinnati Royals – Blue

Walker has an impressive build, giving him the strength to convert on layups at the rim. He’s a good example of a straight-line attacker who likes to create space with a jab step in one direction before driving the other.

He’s a little mechanical as an athlete but we think it’s a product of him being in a growing stage. Once he figures out his body, we think Walker will get a little quicker on the floor and with his jumper. He can hit from the mid-range right now but it’s not super fluid. Walker also leaks out on the break for layups and defender with size.

#64 Darius Parham, 6’2”, Bishop Ready / Hidden Gems Black

Parham is a stocky athlete that can handle ball pressure and contact in the lane. His poise allows him to see passes and finish with power at the basket. He has a good in-and-out move and uses the hesitation well. Crafty finisher. He sees passes but too often tries to thread the needle. His style of play really works at the high school level.

 

Athletic Wings

The potential lies here. To be honest, most of these guys have a ways to go in becoming a complete basketball player, but they’ll always have an edge in natural athleticism and that’s no small thing. Everyone here has shown flashes of excellence and we’re excited to see how they rise going forward.

In comparison to other ranked small forwards, these eight prospects have the greatest variance in outcome over the next several years because potential is hard to project. Things like willingness to put in the work, love for the game, and a chip on the shoulder are harder to measure — the things it takes to reach potential.

#17 Jamiya Neal, 6’4”, Toledo St. Francis / All Ohio Red

Neal could’ve been placed in the Defenders category because of his IQ in the passing lanes and length. But, the wiry Neal does have offensive ability, in terms of ball-handling ability and shiftiness Neal usually facilitates offense on the wing and too often settles for deep jumpers after a side-to-side dribble where he doesn’t really apply pressure to the defense. Being assertive getting to the rim would help him be more efficient. Regardless, we like Neal’s ability in transition, defensive upside, and we think he will develop nicely with more structure.

#21 Amarion Dickerson, 6’4”, Rhodes / All Ohio Rebels 16U

Dickerson was usually the best athlete on the 16U floor at tournaments like the Nike Cup, Super 16, and Run N Slam. His bounce and length are complimented by a high-motor and excellent shot-blocking instincts. He rejects shots on chase-downs, help-side, and when he simply staying in front of his guy.

Dickerson also came along as a ball-handler and outside shooter throughout the season. His shooting mechanics are a little weird, but the release is high. He is elusive enough around the basket to finish through traffic.

#28 Steve Coleman, 6’2”, Maumee Valley / All Ohio Red

Coleman has enough athleticism, hustle, and craft around the basket to suggest that he could develop into a really nice guard. First of all, he defends like he’s 6’4”-6’5” with the way he bodies up against bigger players, provides resistance at the basket, and rebounds. Coleman’s off the bounce game isn’t polished yet, but he can finish with creativity in the air and has nice touch on layups. His shooting range is about 15 feet right now.

Coleman is going to need to play to his full potential the next two years if Maumee Valley is going to capitalize on him and Zeb Jackson being on the same D-IV team. Last year, they lost to the Etzlers at Convoy Crestview in the Regional Semifinals. We expect those two teams to meet at Bowling Green again this season. While Jackson should take care of most the scoring, a second threat would help their success in a major way, and Coleman can make that happen at the rim while filling other gaps.

#50 AJ Glover, 6’3”, Africentric / Nova (Douglas)

Glover has speed with the ball in his hands, allowing him to get to the rim, sometimes uncontested. Understandably, he has inconsistent body control at the rim sometimes because of that speed. That explosiveness is rare and he is starting to translate it to the defensive end, where we think his upside resides. Glover doesn’t take a lot of outside jumpers.

Others: Demari Martin (#19), Prophet Johnson (#46), Thomas Zsiros (#47), Dashawn Huffman (#91)

 

Defenders

Much has been made of the 3-and-D phenomenon in professional basketball these last few years. But at the high school level in Ohio, we’re seeing a lot of 3-and-finish guys who use athleticism and both ends to influence the game.  

#11 Garner Wallace, 6’4”, Pickerington Central / Mid Ohio Pumas Elite

The Defensive Player of the Year for the 2018 grassroots season has extraordinary versatility, defending 1-4 throughout spring and summer. Wallace is lengthy, quick as hell, and has an underrated ability to focus on one task — shutting his guy down. Also underrated: the frequency at which he turns defense into quick offense. Wallace is a speed demon coast-to-coach and he gets to the rim at will because of it.

#27 William McCracken, 6’4”, Moeller / Indiana Elite 2021

First of all, McCracken is too low in the rankings. We’ll do better next time with the McCracken evaluation.

Second, McCracken contributed to the country’s no. 5 15U team with perimeter defensive and efficient shooting. He’s a one dribble pull-up guy that has good rhythm going side-to-side. He can make contested shots and shows a blend of athleticism and craft as a finisher. Back to defense, McCracken plays angles well and has a strong chest. He can shut down his matchup with size and foot speed. Good enough vertical to be a shot-blocker and defensive rebounder when he’s around the action.

#34 AJ Adams, 6’4”, Findlay / All Ohio Gold (Kizer)

Our lone small forward sleeper is a true gem who we believe is going to be one of the class’ best D-II/high-NAIA prospects. It’s a simple thing, but Adams has a good defensive stance that utilizes his length. He’s quick enough to defend guys smaller than him and he’ll be one of the top rebounders in the undersized Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC) as an upperclassman because of his nose for the ball and bounce. He also just plays super hard on that end.

He’s impressive on the other end as a slasher who can hit the second gear once he crosses over. He finishes athletically with either hand and has a developing jumper.  Adams can go.

Others: Kobe Buford (#38), Brendon Hill (#71)

 

Shooters

It’s tougher to be a shooting specialist on the wing, where teams are usually going to need you to be a factor defensively and around the basket. So, these guys aren’t necessarily specialists, but they fit best here.

#58 Aidan Noyes, 6’4”, Moeller / Mid Ohio Pumas (Seeman)

Also a candidate for the Skilled Wings portion, Noyes plays almost like a stretch-4 who trails the offense, a player-type that Moeller has had success with. He has a confident quick release. But Noyes can put it on the floor for straight-line drives and has the athleticism to finish in traffic. He’s likely on the slow plan at Moeller, but watch for Noyes to contribute at the varsity level in two years if he doesn’t decide to focus on baseball year-round.

Others: Shane Garcia (#88), Zyon Tull (#97)