We officially wrap up the 2020-2021 boys basketball season with the naming of the 3rd annual Outside the Huddle All-Area team.
For our selections, we narrowed down candidates to the top 16 players as we see them in the area. No second teams, no honorable mentions, just one group of who the editors of OTH feel are the best of the best this year.
In order alphabetically and by grade, here are this year’s honorees:
ZANE BURKE, BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN
Once again, Burke was a major catalyst for Blackhawk Christian’s title run. The Braves cashed in on another state championship, this time in Class 2A, becoming the first boys program to ever win two straight state titles in different classes. Burke again was leading the way as the Braves point guard, averaging a team-high 6.2 assists per game, tied for the highest among all of our All-Area performers this season. Burke also averaged 17.7 points per game, scoring in single digits just once along the way. Burke also averaged 5.8 rebounds per game, third amongst all Blackhawk Christian players.
Burke was named IBCA Senior All-State Small School and IBCA Academic All-State First Team. Burke is now a three-time Outside the Huddle All-Area player, winning the honor each of the three years of its existence. He has been among the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#5 in 2020, #12 in 2019). In February, Burke surpassed the 1,000-point scoring mark for his career.
Burke will continue his basketball career at the University of Saint Francis.
BLAKE DAVISON, LEO
The community around him wanting his #12 retired at Leo High School should explain all you need to know about Davison’s impact his career. As a senior, he led the Lions to their first-ever state finals appearance, where they fell just one point short in the Class 3A final. Davison’s last-second shot to lift Leo in the semistate round will long live as the biggest shot in program history. Averaging 16.9 points per game, Davison started every single game of his senior season, also putting up 4.8 rebounds per contest.
Davison was named IBCA Senior All-State Large School, was selected as part of the Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60 and was All-Northeast 8 Conference First Team. This is Davison’s second Outside the Huddle All-Area honor. He has been part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#9 in 2020; #24 in 2019). With his 1,000-point mark taken care of during his junior season, Davison soared to the 2nd all-time scorer in Leo history as a senior, finishing with 1,493 career points.
Davison will continue his basketball career at Indiana Tech.
CALEB FURST, BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN
What can you say about Furst that hasn’t been said already? The 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball became just the second player in Class 2A (or lower) history to win the award after leading the Braves to a Class 2A state title. Furst finished his high school career with a record of 100-10, going 16-0 against Class 2A opponents. During his senior season, Furst averaged 21.4 points and an area best 14.1 rebounds per game. Furst also averaged three assists and 2.2 blocks per game.
In a postseason full of honors, other than being Mr. Basketball and the right to wear #1 for the Indiana All-Stars, Furst was named IBCA Senior All-State Supreme 15, IBCA Academic All-State First Team, Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60 Seniors, the MaxPreps Indiana Player of the Year and MaxPreps All-American Honorable Mention. He is a three-time Outside the Huddle All-Area player and was named OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons at the #1 spot as part of the annual First Five, the biggest OTH preseason honor.
Furst cemented himself at the very center of Blackhawk Christian history with 10 program records, the biggest of which being the Braves’ all-time leading scorer with 2,067 points and leading rebounder with 1,254. He is also the program’s leader in games played, wins, postseason wins, single season points, single season rebounds, career blocks, single season dunks and career dunks.
Furst will continue his basketball career at Purdue.
LUKE GOODE, HOMESTEAD
The senior helped lead Homestead to a record 25-0 mark with SAC and sectional titles along the way. At the end of his senior season, he was named an Indiana All-Star. Goode finished averaging 19.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, five assists and 1.2 steals per game. Goode finished his high school career as one of the highest-ranked Spartan basketball players ever. He played in more games (100) and started more games (99) than any Homestead player ever and ended with records for most three-pointers made in a game (10) and career (232). He also became the winningest Spartan ever with 79 wins in his career.
Goode was named IBCA Senior All-State Supreme 15 and IBCA Academic All-State First Team, while also being named Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60 and All-SAC First Team. Goode is a three-time Outside the Huddle All-Area nominee and was ranked in the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons, each time in the #2 spot as part of the annual First Five, OTH’s highest preseason honor.
Goode will continue his basketball career on the Division I level at Illinois.
LANDEN JORDAN, CHURUBUSCO
Churubusco won its second-straight sectional title, in part behind Jordan. He finished his senior season as one of the few players in the area averaging a double-double with 19.3 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. His 349 total rebounds as a senior was the best single season in school history, including a school-record 25 rebounds in a game (vs. West Noble). Jordan had a winning percentage of .837 in his time at Churubusco with 30 double doubles in 43 games. Jordan also averaged 2.9 blocks per game as a senior.
Jordan was named IBCA Senior All-State Small School at All-NECC First Team. Jordan has been Outside the Huddle All-Area in each of the past two seasons. He was part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons as well (#8 in 2020, #16 in 2019).
Jordan will continue his basketball career at Huntington University.
THOMAS LATHAM, NEW HAVEN
Latham set the pace for a New Haven team that battled atop the Northeast 8, but failed to capture any titles this season. Still, he had one of the best outputs of his career, despite playing his senior year with multiple debilitating injuries. Latham averaged 15.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2 blocks per game. Among his biggest games of the season was in a win over Snider where he scored 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting, also grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Latham was named IBCA Senior All-State Honorable Mention and All-Northeast 8 Conference First Team. A really big matchup program for area teams, Latham was named part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#10 in 2020, #22 in 2019). In February, Latham surpassed 1,000 career points and moved into sixth in New Haven boys basketball scoring history.
Latham will continue his basketball career at the University of Saint Francis.
JACKSON PAUL, CHURUBUSCO
Jackson Paul led the Eagles to their second straight sectional title by averaging 23.2 points per game and an area co-best 6.2 assists per outing. Paul also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 steals per contest. Along his career, Paul racked up 1,751 career points which is No. 5 in Whitley County history. His 604 points as a senior makes him just the second Churubusco player to ever score over 600 in one season. He also finished as the school’s second all-time leading scorer while being first in program history in wins in his career (62) and total assists (509).
Paul was named All-NECC First Team, IBCA Senior All-State Small School and was named to the Hoosier Basketball Magazine senior Top 60. Paul is a two time Outside the Huddle All-Area player and has been part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#6 in 2020, #11 in 2019).
Paul will continue his basketball career at Huntington University.
COLE RICHMOND, DEKALB
While DeKalb finished as a sub-.500 team, Richmond shined as one of the strongest and most consistent players in the entire area. He averaged 17.7 points, four rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a senior. He shot 47 percent from the field, a stellar 41 percent from three-point range and 87 percent from the free throw line. He finished his career with the best game of all, scoring 34 points in a triple-OT sectional loss to Snider.
Richmond was named All-Northeast 8 Conference First Team and IBCA Academic All-State. Richmond has been named to the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two season (#48 in 2020, #44 in 2019).
NAYLON THOMPSON, BISHOP LUERS
Thompson was one of less that a dozen players in the area to average over 20 points per game with his 20.9 points per outing. He stayed a consistent force and one of the most athletic finishers in the area. To go along with that, he averaged 6.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game. He moved into second on Bishop Luers’ all-time scoring list during his senior season, scoring 1,459 points for his career, including a career-high 36 points in the final game of DeKalb’s season against Leo.
Thompson was named All-Summit Athletic Conference First Team, IBCA Senior All-State Honorable Mention and was named Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60 seniors. Thompson is now a two time Outside the Huddle All-Area honoree. He named to the Outside the Huddle Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#7 in 2020, #17 in 2019).
He will continue his basketball career at the University of Saint Francis.
DJ ALLEN, LEO
If there was anything that solidified Allen as one of the area’s top players, it was his stellar defense on one of the state’s best players in the Class 3A state finals, where Leo fell just short of its first-ever title. Allen averaged 13 points and 7.7 rebounds during his junior season, showing that while he is a Division 1 football prospect, Allen is a very tough player on the basketball court, where he played a major role in the best season in Leo boys basketball history in which the Lions won the NE8, a sectional, regional and a semi state.
Allen was named All-Northeast 8 First Team and IBCA Underclass All-State Large School. Allen has been part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#22 in 2020, #41 in 2019).
CONNOR ESSEGIAN, CENTRAL NOBLE
The top scorer in all of northeast Indiana this past season was Essegian as he led the Cougars to the NECC Tournament title and a share of the NECC regular season championship. Essegian averaged 24 points even across the season while the Cougars posted a 92 percent winning percentage. Essegian hit 52 percent of his shots from the field and 84 percent of his free throws. He also averaged 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game for Central Noble. After his junior season, Essegian now has set 10 marks in the Cougar and Noble County record books, including being the program’s all-time leading scorer now at 1,705 career points.
He was named All-NECC First Team and IBCA Underclass All-State Supreme 15. This is Essegian’s second year being named Outside the Huddle All-Area and he has been part of the OTH preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons, moving from #10 in 2019 to #3 in 2020 as part of the annual First Five, the highest preseason honor given out by OTH. Essegian recently picked up another Division I offer as his college opportunities continue to grow.
JALEN JACKSON, CARROLL
Jackson stepped up in a major way this season to lead Carroll to a sectional title and near the top of the pile in the stacked SAC. Jackson had one of the area’s best scoring seasons at 22.3 points per game, never finishing in single digits in a contest. Jackson posted a career-best 45 points in the sectional win over Snider, going 20-of-28 from the field. He shot 60 percent during the course of the entire season. Jackson also averaged a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game for Carroll as a lead guard. He had a team-best 1.5 steals per game and was second on the team with 3.2 assists per contest.
Jackson was named an Indiana Junior All-Star, part of the All-SAC First Team and IBCA Underclass All-State Supreme 15. He was part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 in 2020 at #12. Since his junior season came to an end, Jackson has started to see a steady stream of interest and offers come in from Division I basketball programs.
KARSON JENKINS, SNIDER
Taking over the leadership role for the Panthers, Jenkins proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he was much more than a spot-up shooter during his junior season by coming in and averaging 20.8 points per game for perennial contender Snider. Jenkins also averaged 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2 steals per game. Along the way, he scored 30 plus points twice and became the most important piece of the Panther lineup, playing 20-plus minutes in 23 of Snider’s 34 games.
Jenkins was named All-Summit Athletic Conference First Team and IBCA Underclass All-State Honorable Mention. He was part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 in 2020 with a preseason ranking of #45.
FLETCHER LOYER, HOMESTEAD
Loyer moved into the area and immediately became one of the most impactful players in northeast Indiana. He was unsurprisingly named an Indiana Junior All-Star while being the leading scorer for a Homestead team that started the season 25-0 and won Summit Athletic Conference and sectional titles. Loyer averaged 24.4 points per game and set the Homestead single-game scoring record with 50 points in a win over Marion. Loyer also set the school’s single season three-point record by hitting 80 over the season and hitting six on three different occasions. Loyer also averaged 4.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
An early commitment was made by Loyer during his junior year as well as he announced plans to play at Purdue after high school. In addition to being an Indiana Junior All-Star, Loyer was named All-SAC First Team and IBCA Underclass All-State Supreme 15. Loyer was part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 this past season in the #4 spot as part of the annual First Five, the top preseason OTH honor.
JOE REIDY, WOODLAN
Reidy’s stellar junior season saw him as one of the few in the area to average a double-double with 23.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game; numbers that don’t hurt when you also carry a 3.8 GPA. Reidy’s 487 points this season are a best for a junior ever at Woodlan while his 246 rebounds were fourth best in a season. He is bolting up the Woodlan all-time scoring list with 1,272 points going into his senior year which is third all-time at Woodlan, just 124 points away from first place Lloy Ball. Reidy also averaged 1.4 blocks and 1.8 steals per game.
Reidy was named All-ACAC First Team and IBCA Underclass Large School All-State. He has been part of the OTH Preseason Top 50 each of the past two seasons (#13 in 2020, #20 in 2019).
BRAUNTAE JOHNSON, NORTH SIDE
It isn’t often that a freshman pops onto an All-Area list, but Johnson has become the catalyst for the reemergence of North Side as a possible area threat. He opened up his high school career with a still career high 26 point outing against Mississinewa and scored in single digits just twice this season. Johnson posted a team high 17.3 points, 5.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game during his freshman season and also averaged 6.5 rebounds per game as the Legends topped the likes of Leo and Churubusco.
Johnson was named All-Summit Athletic Conference First Team, another honor that rarely goes to a freshman. He was also named IBCA Underclass All-State Large School.