We have reached the top 5 in our countdown of Outside the Huddle’s Top 50 girls basketball player countdown. This is No. 1 in our annual preseason crowning of the top 5 players in northeast Indiana that we call the ‘First Five;’ our highest individual preseason honor.
The ‘First Five’ was started in 2018, 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 third group of honorees coming this season at the top of our Top 50 countdown.
No. 1 – Ayanna Patterson, Homestead
Where do you even start with Patterson, who has garnered scholarship offers from nearly every single top college basketball program in the country? She is currently ranked #3 in the espnW rankings for the class of 2022 for the entire nation, with the next Indiana player coming in at 32. If you pay attention to social media, you’ve seen Patterson rising up this summer and dunking the basketball in training. Once she does that in a game during her high school career – and with two seasons left, she will – it may break the internet locally and nationally. Going into her junior season, Patterson is healthy again. She had injuries the summer before the 2019-20 season and was plagued by some last year too but she is healthy, spry and going to make an even bigger impact this winter.
Patterson averaged 13.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game a season ago and shot the ball at a pretty staggering 47.7 percent success rate. She cleans up well around the rim and this year will be relied on even more for her interior presence. Averaging over three offensive rebounds per game (she tallied 9 versus Snider last season), what can you do with her when she grabs the board and has you pinned down low as a defender? Nothing. She continues to get versatile in her scoring, getting out on the break, can extend out more on the floor and has the stamina to give the Spartans 30 minutes a night if they need her too. She put up double digit points in 9 of 10 games down the stretch of the season before the Sectional final including 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting against Northfield. Patterson is very strong, built for bullying if need be, and she is going to just get tougher to defend as more and more junk defenses are thrown her way. She also blocked 1.3 shots per game and had 1.1 steals per contest last season.
This is the second straight season that Patterson is the top preseason player in Outside the Huddle’s ‘First Five’
COACH’S QUOTE ON AYANNA PATTERSON
“Ayanna has really worked on her versatility and will be one of the most dominate players in the area/state. She has the ability to take over a basketball game on both ends of the court. Ayanna can score a variety of ways, she is a prolific rebounder, an intimidating defender and a tremendous athlete.” – Homestead coach Rod Parker
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