Outside the Huddle and Bounce are counting down who it feels are the top 50 individual boys basketball players in northeast Indiana heading into the 2020-21 season.
Today, we unveil five of the best in the area at positions No. 30-26.
No. 30 – Weston Hamby, Manchester
Hamby in an ultra talented defender who prides himself on shutting down any opponent of any caliber. At Manchester, on the fringe of the Outside the Huddle coverage area, we still don’t think he is as high profile as he should be headed into his senior season. Last year, he averaged 11.7 points, 6.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the Squires. He has been the leader for Manchester and will be expected to step up even more this season with most of his team lost to graduation and a new head coach at the helm. But with Hamby’s on court demeanor, that shouldn’t be an issue. You can tell by watching him that he is the type of kid that you never have to tell to do something twice, he just works hard to get it done.
A bought with COVID in the offseason saw Hamby never fully get back to himself as the face guard of the TPE program, so it will be interesting to see where he is months later. Hamby is a deadly shooter when given the space and is likely to be much less passive this season for Manchester than in previous ones. He also has shown a growing acumen at getting to the rim and embracing the contact that will be thrown his way.
No. 29 – Zack Troyer, Leo
Troyer was certainly one of the area’s best breakout players a year ago. His inside presence was so crucial that he was one of three Lions to play in and start all 26 games as Leo became Sectional champions. Troyer is an excellent post for multiple reasons and his aggression raised throughout the season to really make that shine. He wasn’t passive when the season began, but by the time the Lions captured a Sectional title, he was huge rebounding at 8.19 per game. Troyer registered 29 more defensive rebounds than the next Lion up which is pretty sound on a high rebounding team. If the other team doesn’t have someone who is dedicated to making an impact on the glass, you are in trouble against Troyer.
Troyer’s length is a real issue for others on both ends of the floor. What he lacks in stockiness, he more than makes up for in reach. He lead Leo with 38 blocked shots and was second on the team in steals with 32. Obviously that length lent itself well to the offensive side of the ball too. He averaged 10.2 points per contest while shooting 48.5 percent from the field. There is no reason to believe that Troyer is done developing either and he makes excellent strides running the court.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ZACK TROYER
“Zack has made great strides as a basketball player over the last two years. He’s really improved his versatility offensively. His footwork is his greatest asset. Defensively, his length was a big key to our sectional run.” – Leo coach Cary Cogdell
No. 28 – Grant Simmons, Homestead
Simmons broke out as a sometimes lights out shooter for the Spartans a year ago and really helped spread out the floor while Homestead was healthy. His length is near impossible to guard on the perimeter and he was one of several Spartans that made it impossible for opposing defenses to get too comfortable. He averaged 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Simmons, on his game, is a dynamic scoring threat who has made some pretty rapid progress. He is raw still in some areas but can fill a lot of needs for the Spartans as Simmons understands high expectations that are on him and Homestead.
The next step in Simmons’ evolution is getting him to be more consistent. Part of that comes with Homestead staying healthier and being able to be more consistent as a program. His early season 20-plus point games against New Haven and Bishop Luers indicated the high end of his range but then had games where he struggled to get his shots off cleanly. This is something he has certainly improved on as his maturity on the court has risen as well.
COACH’S QUOTE ON GRANT SIMMONS
“[He is a] wing who can really shoot the basketball. Expecting big things from Grant this year.” – Homestead coach Chris Johnson
No. 27 – Jakar Williams, New Haven
With a physical stature that screams “bully” on the basketball court, Williams showcases his ability to be multi faceted every night. Yes, he is going to play bully ball any time he needs to (or wants to) but his light touch and basketball IQ have really turned him into a complete player. His averages of 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game don’t quite do his overall game justice because, again, those sound like bruiser numbers. Meanwhile, Williams’ aforementioned soft touch had him second on the team in three point shooting a year ago with 32 makes at a 34 percent success rate. When you compare his shooting prowess to his overall numbers (he also shot a team best 64% inside the arc), you can really see the mismatch he is for defenses.
For those who don’t pay attention to football season, Williams is the New Haven quarterback. And there is solid carry over there, which is not always the case. Williams moves around the floor well and makes quality reads during the winter too. He is actually the top returning passer at 2.9 assists per game and led New Haven in 2019-20 at 2.2 steals per game. While he can beat and bang on the inside, Williams will be an intriguing point guard option this season that will be basically impossible to match up with.
COACH’S QUOTE ON JAKAR WILLIAMS
“Jakar Williams is going to be a key factor for us defensively this season. He’s another big rebounder for us and someone who will create opportunities for himself on the defensive end reading his opponent and getting steals that turn into points going the other way. Jakar will have an expanded role this season bringing the ball down the floor and creating open shots for our guys. He’s another guy that has put in the work this offseason and will step into more of a leadership role this year.” – New Haven coach Bruce Stephens
No. 26 – Ryan Preston, Carroll
When you look at the stereotypical Carroll basketball player, there may as well be a picture of Preston; and no, that isn’t a bad thing at all. Preston is a model for consistency and effort. At 9.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, Preston hasn’t been the lead dog in the fight many times but the reality is he is always in the fight. Ryan Preston does not take a night off. Preston is the best pure shooter with the Chargers and one of the best in the conference, hitting at a 46 percent success rate while hitting the most triples for the SAC Holiday Tournament champions last season.
Defensively, about the best compliment that can be given to Preston is how he can play like and fill the void of 2020 graduate Richie Gross. Preston is going to be willing to do all the little things to get after the ball and make things happen for the Chargers. He did average 1.2 steals per game and when he had three or more steals in a game during the 2019-20 season, the Chargers were unbeaten. The best part for Preston and those who rely on him is that when you get aggressive, you can find yourself on the free throw line, where Preston hit 82 percent of his shots.
COACH’S QUOTE ON RYAN PRESTON
“Ryan is a such a hard worker and has really improved his athleticism and a quicker release on his shot. He is as competitive as any player we have had a Carroll. He will be counted on to be a leader.” – Carroll coach Marty Beasley
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