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. 20-16.
No. 20 – Austin Jordan, South Side
Coming back from a torn ACL is never an easy task, but Jordan has already showcased he is ready. If ever there is a year where there has been more downtime to prepare and a player more focused on coming back better than he left off, it would be hard to find. It has been a perfect storm of events that saw Jordan come back late this summer from the injury that took him down during the SAC Holiday Tournament. Once he returned, his movement was fluid and everything appears to be back to normal. Jordan was averaging a team third-best 12.4 points per game before his injury and was really hitting his stride as a scorer.
Believe it or not, Jordan’s absence may have opened things up for him to show his versatility more. He came into the South Side program as a freshman and was thrust into a lead guard role midway through the season. He’s had to take on primary ball handling obligations but now that the Archers have other options for that, Jordan can let the ball fly as he came into high school as a respected shooter and can still hit with great regularity. Last season in his four games played (he was injured early in the fifth), he was not shy about shooting the ball; putting up 21 points in a win over North Side.
COACH’S QUOTE ON AUSTIN JORDAN
“A lightning quick guard that we are expecting big things from him now that he is healthy. He was off to a great start last year before having his season end prematurely. We expect him to pick up where he left off.” – South Side coach J.J. Foster
No. 19 – Sawyer Yoder, Central Noble
One of the very toughest matchups in all of Northeast Indiana has become Yoder. He holds a pretty even keel demeanor as he advances up and down the court and trying, as an opposing player, to know if he is going to be more active or passive that trip is a challenge. By keeping the opponent off guard, Yoder has found a way to fill a variety of roles for the Cougars. His shooting prowess shines brightly and when he and teammate Connor Essegian are hitting on the same night, like they did in the NECC Tournament final, there is no team that can match up with them. Yoder is a another player who’s length makes him a challenge to defend on the perimeter. He can shoot over almost everyone and his long limbs and crossover make his drive unpredictable.
Last season and this past summer though have seen Yoder advance significantly beyond his traditional roles. He is Central Noble’s returning leader in assists at 3.3 per game and he is constantly scanning the floor looking for his next move, whether it is in transition or slowed down into the half court game. He averaged 15.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 2019-20 and also established himself as a threat to play above the rim. You really have to make a decision in how you are going to guard Yoder early, but if you choose wrong, he has all the tools to make you pay.
COACH’S QUOTE ON SAWYER YODER
“Sawyer is long and athletic. He shoots the ball well and has the ability to get to the basket. Sawyer has shown steady growth in all aspects of the game since his freshman year. I look for more growth from Sawyer as he continues to mature.” – Central Noble coach John Bodey
No. 18 – Khamani Smith, Northrop
Smith has become really adept at scoring on all three levels. It has been no secret that Outside the Huddle has been a fan of his work in the midrange. But it is because of his aggression at times in the post that his midrange game flows so nicely. Smith will start backing you down near the free throw line and you have to hedge your bets on if he is going to work all the way to the rim or hit you with a turnaround fadeaway off one foot. Both work well, but his fadeaway in the midrange is a bread and butter skill that is tough to defend.
Smith has seen a lot of transition in the program during his three seasons with the Bruins and it will happen again as he takes over the primary leadership role. Because of his experience, the things he has seen and been a part of, it will be crucial for Smith to be able to be leaned upon. Big moments will require Smith to take charge and everyone will be watching to see if he is up to the task.
No. 17 – Marcus Davidson, Blackhawk Christian
Good luck trying to peg what type of player Marcus Davidson is going to be on any given night. The chameleon like versatility that Davidson has always shown in the Braves lineup will only be stronger as his muscle and tone has developed since last season’s Sectional title season was cut short. By necessity and work ethic, Davidson improves his roles each season. Last year, he put up 15.6 points and 3.8 assists per game and really cracked teams as a solid third option for Blackhawk Christian when they needed someone to step up into a top 3 role. There shouldn’t have been any surprise that he answered the call, but how fluently he did it was impressive.
At his core, what everyone came into high school knowing about Davidson was that he was a lights out shooter. He hit 45 percent of this three pointers and 84 percent of his free throws last season. So that lights out shooting doesn’t change. What has altered over last season and this past summer is how much better Davidson is at creating his own shot with the ball in his hands. His dribble drive and first step are so efficient now that he can jab his way by defenders and really create his own space with the ball in his hands.
COACH’S QUOTE ON MARCUS DAVIDSON
“Marcus has made significant strides as a player every year. He has re-configured his body, and continues to be a high percentage shot maker.” – Blackhawk Christian coach Marc Davidson
No. 16 – Brenden Lytle, Bishop Dwenger
At the top of the argument of hardest working athletes in Fort Wayne, there sits Brenden Lytle. The Bishop Dwenger senior is a tireless competitor and, I’ll say it, just a winner. While the victories on the basketball court haven’t come as solidly as they have on the football field, Lytle has the Saints always right there as a threat. Another guy who has seen a whole wide range of teammates and talent cycle through the program, Lytle has remained a constant for Dwenger now into his fourth season with the program. It takes a lot for a coach to trust a player wholly with the ball in their hands, especially when that coach is as seasoned as Matt Kostoff; yet, you can tell he doesn’t bat much of an eye when Lytle has the ball.
Decision making is a top virtue for the senior guard. He knows when to make the extra pass, he knows when to attack and he knows when something just isn’t working and the plan needs to be altered. Lytle’s ability to read the floor helped lead him to 12 point and three assist averages per game in 2019-20. His grit and attitude defensively helped lead him to four rebound and three steal per game marks.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRENDEN LYTLE
“B is our leader! Being a multi-sport athlete, he has been through all the battles. No moment is too big for him. He is a fiery competitor in whatever he is doing and that rubs off on his teammates. Last year he had to adjust being option #1 on the opposition’s scouting report. With our increased depth, hopefully we can play him off the ball a little more to free him up to get easier looks at the basket. He has great defensive instincts and isn’t afraid to mix it up inside.” – Bishop Dwenger coach Matt Kostoff
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