As we wrap up our unprecedented countdown of the Top 50 area boys basketball players heading into the 2019-2020 season (RELATED: The 2019 High School basketball Top 50 boys players), we have reached our second annual boys basketball ‘First Five’ honorees.
The ‘First Five’ was started last season, following in the 35-plus year tradition of naming the top five area basketball players, started by a now defunct prep sports department in Fort Wayne. It is our honor to pick up and carry on that tradition with the ‘First Five,’ including our second group of honorees coming this season at the top of our Top 50 countdown.
TOP 50 BOYS HOOPS: #5 Will Geiger, Norwell
Good luck finding a player quite like Will Geiger in 2019. A true throwback to a simpler time, Geiger has redefined the phrase “blue collar player,” and by doing so it has made Norwell a contender in the Northeast 8. They will again be a top team in the conference after finishing third last season.
Geiger is a massive physical presence at the rim where he uses his farm strong body to bully his way to the rim. Anywhere from 10 feet in is Geiger’s territory and he can bend even taller or bigger players to his will as he powers in for basket after basket. His movement and footwork down low is fundamentally sound for anyone let alone such a physically solid guy. It helps too on the rebounding end where Geiger is a massive double double monster no matter the opponent standing across from him. Geiger, based on anyone you talk to, is a great kid and a hard worker. He has constantly proved his commitment to his team and his toughness including a massive outing to start last season while battling illness. There are few things that can possibly slow Geiger’s motor and it rarely, if ever happens.
Geiger knows the game so well and that is a major trait in helping him expand his game, even into his senior season. He is getting better at putting the ball on the floor and creating for himself more consistently. That may be one of the best traits Geiger has is that he is consistently trying to get better. His range has expanded, which not only helps in his own shooting, but with his floor vision, the more he can pull back from the basket, the better passer he is becoming as well. Geiger averaged 19 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game a year ago.
“Will is a strong leader who works hard to set a good example for our program, and he gives his best effort everyday in both practices and games,” says Norwell coach Mike McBride.
TOP 50 BOYS HOOPS: #4 Dillon Duff, Snider
Dillon Duff has been through the gauntlet and a range of success at Snider. As a freshman, he saw some limited time for the SAC champions that were loaded. He went through a rebuild as a sophomore and a several highs and lows last season. Now as a senior, Duff has emerged as a leader vocally and by example to try and help the Panthers back to being a title team.
Duff has an orthodox, long swinging drive that can be complicated. While it, at times, leaves the basketball exposed, it is so hard to predict where he moves the ball as he cuts to the basket and his long frame draws a lot of contact which has has become very adept and finishing through. His coach wants him to be a bigger threat shooting the ball, though Duff did hit 50 percent of his three pointers a season ago while hitting a team fourth best 17 treys. Duff has a nice, soft touch around the rim and he has the potential to still develop a nice jump shot, which is still decent right now. He also has a swagger about him that some opponents may find a thorn in their side, but that is the point, isn’t it? Duff isn’t afraid of a challenge and welcomes competition nightly.
After a fall spent on the football field for the first time in his high school career, it is possible that Duff is in the best shape of his life. He is a guy that Snider needs to have on the court 25-28 minutes a night because he brings a life to the team that helps keep everything vibrant. That is only going to help him shine more defensively too where he is good on the switch, capable of guarding most positions on the floor in a solid stance. His length will make him a post defender a lot in a smaller SAC, but he can step out and guard well on the perimeter too because he is so basketball smart and strong. Duff averaged a team high 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds while being second in assists (2.6) and steals (1.4) per game.
“Probably the hardest working player — on and off the court — that I’ve coached. Has made great improvements every year, and is ready to exploit defenses both inside and outside this year,” says Snider coach Jeremy Rauch.
TOP 50 BOYS HOOPS: #3 Charlie Yoder, Westview
The most successful high school basketball programs are the ones with a constant. Its nice when it is a coach, it is amazing when it is a player. Charlie Yoder has been that constant for three seasons and heading into his fourth, it is his presence that keeps Westview a contender in the NECC and Class 2A.
Last season, Yoder was the only area player named to the core team of the Indiana Junior All-Stars. He has a Division 1 talent level and is finally getting those looks on a more consistent basis before his senior season. At his core, Yoder can flat out score from anywhere on the court at any time with any kind of defense throw at him and he has proven that time and time again. His best scoring games during his junior season seemed to come with the best competition against him, be it Valparaiso’s Brandon Newman or Mr. Basketball Trayce Jackson-Davis of Center Grove. He impressed with a split of 60/40/80 from two point, three point and free throw line attempts. Yoder averaged 23.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.7 blocks per game; a stat line that makes a major argument for him being the area’s most well rounded player.
Yoder’s stock has skyrocketed in the last two seasons once he become a proven commodity on the AAU circuit where he has been the lights out shooter we have seen at Westview. With added attention, Yoder has cultivated his game and his body more, adding muscle to prepare for whatever the next level will bring. Yoder has a high motor and his ability to break down gaps in the defense has set himself apart as a guy who can drive to finish to dish to an open man when he draws the defense in. He’s a solid athlete with the potential to be a good defender on the next level, in part because of a solid wing span and also because of a humble attitude.
“Charlie has started every game since he was a freshman. He has won 70 games in his first three years. Since last spring he has made a lot of progress physically. He has always been good statistically for us, and we think he is going to have a really good year,” says Westview coach Rob Yoder.
TOP 50 BOYS HOOPS: #2 Luke Goode, Homestead
Homestead has been a breeding ground for high level college players that turn into quality college athletes and Luke Goode has made the steps to be the next in that line as he continues to draw big Division 1 interest because of his athleticism coupled with a strong leadership quality.
Goode took control the Spartans a year ago and really transformed his game after being labeled as mostly a shooter to start his high school career. Now a junior, Goode’s profile is as great as it has ever been and he comes a must see player in the city and has Homestead firmly on the map as the team to beat. Goode can rely on an advanced feel for the game and high skill level to make the right reads on and off ball that helps free him up for his shots. As time goes on, he will need to get better as teams try to throw more complex defensive schemes even into his high school career.
While Goode has gone from a really good spot up shooter to a guy who can create long range shots in a variety of ways, he is also becoming more of a threat on the move as someone who can break a defense with his off ball cuts and deviations off screens. With his ability make intelligent reads against any defense, his offense has started to flow more. That came to a head this summer with him having to play a lot of roles depending on the Spiece Indy Heat team he was with. It also raised his stock to become a Top 100 player in his class nationally. Goode averaged a team high 14.9 points and 5.6 rebounds last season while shooting 40 percent from the field, 35 percent from three point range and 72 percent from the foul line.
“[Luke is a] Division 1 basketball player with a lot of potential. Excellent shooter and with his length, looking to play Luke inside and out,” says Homestead coach Chris Johnson.
TOP 50 BOYS HOOPS: #1 Caleb Furst, Blackhawk Christian
It is difficult to adequately explain what the game and expansion that game of Caleb Furst has meant to the Blackhawk Christian program. He has already put into place the groundwork that could make him the best to ever put on a Braves jersey by the time he is done. Part of that has to do with helping lead the Braves to the 2019 Class 1A state title. He is now a two-time member of the First Five, having been on the inaugural team last season.
Furst has come a long way to be a pretty explosive athlete that is very strong and competitive at a unique level. He can finish through contact and has become a versatile scorer at the basket. He can play back to the basket like a true post on offense but also can play above the rim and also is getting better at stepping out in range a little bit. He has a good physical profile and is adding weight in the way of muscle. Furst has carried the hype that followed him since middle school well. Every night, he is the most watched player on the floor and he has handled it with poise. That is part of the reason he is attracting some of the best colleges in the nation, including an offer from defending national champion, the University of Virginia.
Defensively, Furst plays with great anticipation, finding ways to get into passing lanes because he never gives up on plays, be it scrapping by after loose balls or big blocks. His rim protection was at a high level during the state championship when his ability to own the inside took away any chance at Barr-Reeve to find momentum and climb back into the game. Because he is versatile forward, he can defend four positions on the floor at this level. Furst averaged 18.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 blocks per game last summer.
“Caleb is a special talent; he brings a unique blend of size, athleticism, strength, skill and basketball IQ. We will look to him to take on more of a leadership role this season,” says Blackhawk Christian coach Marc Davidson.