Posted On: 01/18/21 12:33 PM
There hasn’t been much high school basketball action around the Baltimore/DC area over the last few months, but the NIBC Invitational in Springfield, Virginia allowed us to see local prospects in action against top-tier competition. The Baltimore Panthers faced off against DeMatha this morning and despite coming up short, 2021 guard Byron Ireland Jr.ByronIreland Jr.6'2" | CGSt. Frances | 2021StateMD reminded everyone that he is still criminally underrecruited.
Ireland is a 6-foot-2 combo guard with a strong frame who continues to add value to his game. As a junior, he played all of his minutes off the ball next to Ace Baldwin and was viewed as a dependable shot-maker and gritty defender. The Baltimore Panthers have featured him more on the ball this year and are pushing him to show his ability to be more of a point guard.
“Honestly I didn’t know that I would be playing more of the point guard this year,” Ireland told Prep Hoops. “I was looking to be more of a scorer like I was last year. It was tough adjusting at first because I was only looking for myself and I wasn’t passing the ball as much. But now I’m starting to get in the swing of thing and operate in different situations and share the ball.”
Irelands stat line against DeMatha consisting of 18 points and seven assists gives some indication that he’s settling into his new role nicely. As Ireland mentioned, the transition hasn’t always been smooth, but it’s a change will absolutely make him more valuable to programs at the next level.
“I improved on my playmaking, like being more of a playmaker. I would also say my jumpshot is getting a little better and my on-ball defense,” Ireland said as he reflected on the improvements he made this summer.
When you compare Ireland’s shot to last season, there’s a clear difference in the confidence he shoots with as a senior. He’s very effective at stopping on the dime in transition for 15-footers, but that’s always been a calling card to Ireland’s game. Now he is a legitimate threat from three whenever he’s operating off the ball. His matchup must account for him at all times and closeout with control while still getting a solid contest.
As a defender, Ireland can guard either guard position. He still needs some improvement with explosion for the very shifty point guards, but he understands angles and how to keep the ball in front of him without fouling.
Ireland told Prep Hoops that Southeastern Louisiana was the last program to reach out to him, but he hasn’t gained any consistent traction with any specific program. In my opinion, Ireland should be one the radar of scholarship programs that are looking for a tough, rugged combo guard who continues to build on his skillset and comes from a winning program.
“I’m going to bring leadership. I like being a good teammate and encouraging my guys. I also know what it takes to win,” Ireland said on what he’ll bring to a college program.