Posted On: 10/23/18 11:23 AM
This is going to be the first in a series of POY articles. We are going to be dividing the contenders up by class, but we will be combining the public school and private school classifications. For example in this article, we are considering players from both 5A and Division 1.
Dywan Griffin 6’0 G Landry Walker
The last time that we saw Griffin touch the court for a high school basketball game, it was in a devastating loss in the 5A state title game against Walker. He was a huge contributor for Landry-Walker in the state title game, and nearly walked away with a triple double, going for 10 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. He won’t have the same bigs around him this season, so he is going to have to step up as a scorer for Landry-Walker to compete for another state title, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he averaged nearly 20 and 10 with a handful of rebounds. Griffin plays so hard on both ends of the court, and is definitely built in the Elfrid Payton mold of stuffing the stat sheet in a variety of ways.
Rodney Munson 6’2 G Bonnabel
Munson is next up when it comes to Bonnabel, and he is going to have some big shoes to fill after the departure of TJ Collins (Trinity Valley CC). However, Munson is known to be a gym rat, and he was able to put up some big games next to Collins last season. Munson is a straight up bucket getter, and he is able to score in a variety of ways. He has a bit of an odd release on his jumper, but he is able to shoot them at a high rate and able to get his shot off quick. He is going to be one of the top shooters in the state this season. He has definitely gotten better over the years when it comes to attacking the rim and finishing around size. In order for him to win player of the year in 5A, Bonnabel is going to have to continue their winning ways, and in order to do that, Munson is going to have to lead and mentor some younger plays that the Bruins have.
Kalil Thomas 6’3 G Holy Cross
This has the potential to be the best team Holy Cross has produced since getting to the Top 28 in 2011, and a big part of that has to do with Kalil Thomas. Thomas is a long, rangy off-guard who is able to affect the game on both ends of the court. On the defensive end, he is capable of completely shutting down the other team’s best player. On the offensive end, he is a versatile scorer, and has worked hard to become a good 3 point shooter. He has a deceptively quick first step, and is able to use his long frame to finish in the paint around bigger defenders. In order for Thomas to win POY, he is going to have to lead Holy Cross to their best season in nearly a decade, and make sure that they take the step forward that is required to be a true contender in Div. I.
Jalen Cook 6’0 G Walker
The last time we saw Cook on a high school basketball court, he was walking away with a state title after a miraculous comeback over Landry-Walker. Last season, Cook didn’t always have to be the best player on the court for Walker, but because of the graduation of so many seniors, he is going to have to take a big step forward in order for Walker to achieve the same team success this season. The good news is that Cook definitely has the required talent to do that. He is a monster scorer on all 3 levels, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up multiple 40+ point games this season. In order to win POY, he is going to have to achieve the same team success that Walker was able to last season, but with less talent around him.
Reece Beekman 6’3 G Scotlandville
Never before has a team had three consecutive Gatorade POY, like Javonte Smart has done over the past three years. This also means, once that run comes to an end, never before has a team had to try to replace the production that a three time Gatorade POY brings. But once again Scotlandville is going to have to do that this year. The good news for the Hornets is that they continue to reload with elite talent, and Reece Beekman is next up. He proved this summer that if he isn’t the best player in the state for the 2020 class, then he is 1a with Jalen Cook. He is a smooth combo guard who is capable of scoring at will. Where I thought he did a better job of summer than I was expecting was his play making abilities, and finding good looks for his teammates. Beekman is going to have some big shoes to fill this season, but if he can keep the Scotlandville train running like it has been for the past decade, he has a chance to keep the player of the year title in family.