Posted On: 10/10/18 7:57 AM
We are officially a month away from the private schools in the Baltimore area getting on the floor for their first practice. Public schools will officially begin Nov. 15. Here at Prep Hoops Maryland, we have a ton of preview content around the entire state, but as usual I’ll focus on the Baltimore and surrounding areas. This year, I’ve decided to put together a list of the top 15 backcourts going into the 2018-19 season. We wrap up this series looking at the top five backcourts.
5. Patterson- ’19 Gerard Mungo & ’19 TJ Thomas
Mungo and Thomas complement each other well. With Marvin Price‘s return, it’ll allow Mungo to go back to playing his natural position at guard. Last season due to severe lack of size, head coach Harry Martin was forced to play Mungo at the power forward position. Even though he stands just 6-foot-1, Mungo is one of the most physical and tough players you’ll find in the city. He has improved his jumper from mid-range and three, but thrives on slashing to the bucket and finishing amidst contact. Thomas does more of his damage scoring from the outside, but is a floor general first. the 6-foot-2 point guard has good vision with the ball and a good feel for how to control a game. Defensively, he guard the ball well and is active with his hands.
Boys’ Latin-’19 Cam Spencer & ’19 Cameron Watts
To some, this duo may surprise some, but if you’ve seen them play, you know this is no mistake. Spencer and Watts have a chance to be a deadly combination this season after helping lead the Lakers to a MIAA A Conference championship appearance. Spencer is the undisputed best three-point shooter in Baltimore. The Loyola (MD) commit is a threat every time he catches the ball. Even though he isn’t known for his finishing, Spencer displayed nice tough around the rim this spring and summer. More importantly, he showed that he can handle the ball effectively and can be counted on to run an offense as a point guard when called upon. Watts does majority of the ball handling, but can also be effective off the ball spotting up for three. He has a nice pull up off the dribble in the mid-range as well. What makes these two so good are the energy and passion they play with on both sides of the ball. Both have high basketball IQ and are extremely coachable, which is why they’ve been so successful over the past year.
3. Dulaney- ’21 Ryan Conway & ’21 Ike Cornish
As just a sophomore, Conway can prove this season that he is the top player in Baltimore County. Following an excellent freshman season, the 6-foot-1 guard has improved his body and overall game. He is arguably a top pure scorer in the entire state. Now that he has a year of varsity under his belt, I expect Conway to take the next step into becoming a premiere player. Cornish is a long-limbed 6-foot-5 guard that experienced his share of ups and downs last season. This spring and summer have been huge for Cornish, as he too has seemed to improve in almost every aspect. In open gyms this fall, Cornish has at times looked like the best player on a very talented Dulaney squad. With the addition of Cam Byers, the Lions are expected to win the Baltimore County crown and make a run in the 4A bracket. With Conway and Cornish at the helm, their chances look pretty good.
2. Mt. St. Joseph- ’19 James Bishop & ’21 Ausar Crawley
There’s no way to replace a player like current Maryland freshman Jalen Smith, but the Gaels made some key moves this summer that will put them once again in the championship conversation in the MIAA and BCL. The biggest piece will be LSU commit James Bishop. The 6-foot-2 guard can score in literally any way. Whether it’s a three, mid-range, around the rim, off the catch or off the dribble it doesn’t matter. Bishop has it in his bag. Crawley was the most productive freshman that wasn’t talked about last season. At just 5-foot-7, the stout, tough-nosed guard played a very specific role of being the initiator of offensive sets, knock down open three’s and play tenacious on the ball defense. He checked out consistently in all three categories. Now that he has proven himself, look to him to take on a little bit more of a role within the offense where his skill set can really be displayed. The southpaw is quick with the ball and has good vision as a distributor. He can also mix it up and hit shots in the mid-range off the dribble.
1. St. Frances- ’20 Ace Baldwin & ’19 Rajeir Jones/ ’20 Jordan Toles
Baldwin has one of the most mature skill sets in Baltimore and he’s proven that since he was a freshman. The 6-foot-1 point guard can score when he needs to, but what makes him the best point guard in the area is his vision and ability to read the game. Baldwin is becoming more athletic to the point where we could see him throw down a few dunks this season. What we will be looking for is Baldwin an improvement as a leader. Body language, encouraging his teammates and being more vocal are all aspects that he needs to improve on. If he checks all of these off his list, he’ll step into the conversation of being an elite player in the state. The reason why I listed both Jones and Toles is because they both will be featured often at the position. Jones is a top perimeter defender, as proven by his BCL Defensive Player of the Year award last season. He is a perfect 3-and-D player that also has athleticism to finish around the rim when he decides to drive.
Toles has been flying around gyms since he stepped on the floor as a freshman for the Panthers. He built the reputation as being the best dunker in Baltimore. Fast forward two years later and Toles is much more. His jumpshot has improved dramatically and he has become another shutdown defender for head coach Nick Myles to throw at opponents. Toles is currently ranked as the top safety in his class for football with a slew of offers even including the almighty Alabama. St. Frances in the favorite to be the top team in the city once again. If they plan on living up to those expectation, these three will need to perform on a consistent basis.