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. 10-6.
No. 10 – Thomas Latham, New Haven
Latham powered his way to the front of the Northeast 8 last season by outworking and outwitting a lot of the guys that dared to try and stand in his way. He averaged 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and was a major catalyst in New Haven’s run to a conference title. Latham has a knack for working on all three levels offensively that really makes him difficult to gameplan for. He really knows how to attack players, which used to be something he took advantage of more in mismatch situations but now it doesn’t really matter…come after Latham and he will face up and drive by you.
Latham is one of the more cerebral players in the senior class, meaning that he just outthinks the guys he comes up against every trip down the floor. Instead of relying on raw physical talent – which he has by the bushel – Latham utilizes a high basketball IQ and feel while he asserts his will on opposing offenses and defenses alike. Latham’s passing numbers (1.9 assists per game) give some hints but his actual play showcases an innate ability to see the floor and put the ball in the right places.
COACH’S QUOTE ON THOMAS LATHAM
“Thomas Latham has been a key player for us. We’re looking for him to expand his game both inside and out this season building off the work he has done in the paint. He has put in the work during the off season and is a guy we can look to for leadership on the floor this year. We’re expecting Latham to be an overall aggressive player this year after nearly tallying 50 total blocks and 200 rebounds in the previous season.” – New Haven coach Bruce Stephens
No. 9 – Blake Davison, Leo
We will head into 2020-21 with the Davison leading at Leo for the final time in what seems like forever as Blake has taken to Leo and made it his team the same way older brothers Jeremy and Adam did. There is a reason that Leo basketball has become synonymous with the Davison name. From day one in the program, this Davison took great pride in being a piece that could set the tone by doing the intangible things, getting into lanes for pass deflections or fighting as a guard in getting rebounds. As his offensive production and leader status rose, he never stopped doing those things. Davison didn’t just evolve his game, he added to it, never forgetting or leaving behind the roots of what made him important to the Lions’ lineup as a freshman.
Now as a senior, Davison returns 17.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and team leading assists and steals from a Leo team that won a Sectional title. He shot 48 percent from the field and 87 percent from the line while being the leading three point shooter on the team. Davison is, after all, a lights out shooter and when all else fails he knows he can lean back on that approach. But that isn’t really his major approach night in and night out anymore. Instead Davison loves to play at the rim and challenge shot blockers with his own crafty moves. He makes interior defenders decide: do you try and block a shot that can come in from any angle and risk sending Davison to the line – see above for that 87 percent success rate – or do you let him be? How many other guys can force the defense into such uncomfortable decisions?
COACH’S QUOTE ON BLAKE DAVISON
“Blake is the leader of our team. We will need Blake to be more vocal as a senior. His improved strength is really going to help his game this year. Blake’s ability to do a little bit of everything on both sides of the floor is a big key to us being successsful.” – Leo coach Cary Cogdell
No. 8 – Landen Jordan, Churubusco
To understand just how quickly Jordan has progressed, you have to remember that he has essentially played just 3/4 of a varsity season. He played in a few games for Concordia as a sophomore before transferring and then was forced to sit out the start of last season. Once he joined the Busco lineup in January, they were virtually unbeatable. Jordan is one of the most athletic post players in the area and certainly tops the list in the NECC. If you were to put his combination of length and explosiveness to good use, he is unstoppable for any player in this area not named Furst (and we still hope to see that matchup after losing it last Spring).
Jordan at the rim, on either side of the ball, is a nightmare. He has big hands, knows how to seal off opposing players and he has the height and intelligence to control the rim whether it is jamming it home or swatting away shots. Jordan was solid and doing bit of everything on the offensive end, making some stellar contributions in transition and on the offensive glass. He is a big time lob threat who can produce points in bunches when he’s on his game and has opposing defenses rattled. Jordan averaged 15.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in the 2019-20 season.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LANDEN JORDAN
“Landen is one of the best athletes around. He runs the floor like a guard, and with his jumping ability, causes all kinds of problems at both ends. As he has gotten older, he has started to understand what it takes to compete and win at all times. He keeps getting better everyday.” – Churubusco coach Chris Paul
No. 7 – Naylon Thompson, Bishop Luers
A lot of people will look at it as if Thompson’s fortunes changed in one singular year that saw him win a SAC title and start working towards Division 1 offers. But the reality is that Thompson’s relentless work to single handedly turn around the Bishop Luers program has gotten him where he is. Did he actually do it single handedly? No, there was plenty of help. But the reality is that Thompson was ready to do it alone if he had to and that isn’t the kind of mainframe that you can create. Instead, he and coach Fonso White were able to build upon Thompson’s will and he has become one of the most fun players in the state to watch because of the fact that he never stops working.
He is a high level scorer with a big motor, putting up 16 points per game while shooting 30 percent from deep and 73 percent from the free throw line in 2019-20. Shooting may be his best trait when projecting to the next level because of the fact he has the ability to shoot off the catch or to pull up off the dribble anywhere from 18 feet into 10 feet with a flawless looking release point. His work in that mid range helps him because of he is able to add spacing to his shot when guys are defending back a bit to not get beat to the rim by his speed. He has the strength to work well in pick and roll situations and is great at absorbing contact at the rim when working in an isolation set up. Thompson also spent 2019-20 averaging 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game as a super versatile option.
COACH’S QUOTE ON NAYLON THOMPSON
“Naylon is one of the most dynamic versatile players on our team. He does so many things for us, depending upon the situation and will need to have an endless motor for us on both offensive and defensive ends of the floor.” – Bishop Luers coach Fonso White
No. 6 – Jackson Paul, Churubusco
Looking to find the edgiest player in Northeast Indiana? Depends on where you start your trip, it shouldn’t take long if you head to Churubusco early. Paul is absolutely just persistent and unabating as a basketball player, showcasing so much energy, enthusiasm and aggression for 32 minutes a night. That’s right, Jackson Paul on the bench – which doesn’t happen much – is just as riled up as Jackson Paul on the floor. Because of that edge, a lot of people have expected that they know what they are getting in Paul when they face the Eagles, but his continued growth in maturity has made him anything but predictable.
What we have always known about Paul is that he is a talented defender and struck fast with that as a freshman. You can say his edge plays a huge role into that because he will challenge anyone getting to the rim. He averaged a team best 19 points and added 4.9 rebounds per game last season. But what has really struck a cord in the last year is how well Paul sees every inch of the court continually. The addition of Landen Jordan really let him open up on becoming a high caliber passer, leading the Eagles with 5.3 assists per game last season as a multi-faceted lead guard. Anytime your best scorer can be your best distributor, you are in a good place.
COACH’S QUOTE ON JACKSON PAUL
“Jackson is one of the most physical guards in the state, on both ends. He gets in the paint & attacks, always putting pressure on the defense. At the defensive end, he is relentless; and he and Luke [McClure] together make it very different for opposing guards. Nobody competes like him, and he wants to finish his career off as a champion.” – Churubusco coach Chris Paul
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