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 2021-22 season. This is our third annual Top 50 countdown.
Today, we unveil five of the best in the area at positions No. 50-46
No. 50 Carter Harman, Lakewood Park
It wouldn’t be right to start the 2021 preseason countdown any other way. Harman has vast experience as far as Lakewood Park players go; he has seen some really bright spots and some not so great moments in the organization. He is a fierce competitor who is willing to do the heavy lifting along the way. The next step in his evolution will be the fact that he has to be the anchor support for a fairly inexperienced team. This is where his previous experiences come in handy as he had to do a little of that late last season. He’s been a role player, a support shooter and has filled in just about any way that Lakewood Park has needed him to over the past few seasons.
Harman is one of just five Panthers that played in every game last season and three of them graduated. He averaged 9.4 points and 1.2 steals, with his scoring being the top for the program outside of a couple who left midseason. Harman is a quality shooter and that is really his foundation but he is now more of a combo guard as his decision making has improved. He shot 31 percent from deep last season but had seven games where he made three or more triples including back-to-back games where he hit five three pointers in each late in the season.
COACH’S QUOTE ON CARTER HARMAN
“We as a coaching staff look forward to seeing who our team leaders will be for this upcoming season. I know Carter desires to be one of those leaders; it has been great to meet with him and challenge him to be everything we believe he can be – To be the player with a fierce passion for the game, strong in scoring, and growing in leadership abilities. This upcoming season can be really special for Carter as a senior, as well as for his fellow teammates, as long as they continue to put the good of the team before themselves.” – Lakewood Park coach Tim Voss
No. 49 Caleb Wright, Fairfield
If you don’t know about Wright, then you haven’t been paying attention. The kid has absolutely torched the home school scene for the past few years and now he brings his high scoring ability to Fairfield. Does it translate? That is the question that everyone is going to have in mind. We’ve had several years with one or two really talented home school kids that we would have liked to see make the transition to playing for a school and we get that wish with Wright. He delves immediately into a NECC with tough defenses that won’t give him or his shooting touch an inch. Will it matter? Time will tell on that one.
But what we do know is that Wright can flat out score. In the 24 games last year that the Bucks have stats on, Wright averaged 25.2 points per contest and shot 52 percent in those games. He scored 2,311 points in his three years on the homeschool high school circuit according to MaxPreps but probably more because Benton played in 48 total games last year and they aren’t all stated on MaxPreps. And while the move to Fairfield has him starting from scratch, he very much deserves to be considered a Top 50 player because of his reputation to this point.
COACH’S QUOTE ON CALEB WRIGHT
“Not a lot of people know about Caleb since he is coming over from the Benton Bucks, but he is an outstanding player with high standards for himself. There isn’t much he is not capable of doing on the offense end, but I think the biggest boost he is going to give us is his leadership. He leads by example, puts in the extra work, and never takes a rep off. It is clear that hard work and motivation has taken him to the level that he is at, and he is instilling that into the rest of our team.” – Fairfield coach Derek Hinen
No. 48 Ryan Schroeder, Central Noble
If you are building a team to get down and dirty, to do the hard work and to handle the intangible things with effort and toughness, then Schroeder is your guy. He has been that guy for Central Noble through some really good runs these last two seasons. The Cougars wouldn’t be the team they are without Schroeder’s contributions across the board. There may not be a guy who is more likely to dive after loose balls and fly around the court with a bit of reckless abandon that Ryan Schroeder and every team needs that kind of guy that is willing to dive head first into the fire. Part of that is being a gritty defender who gets up and into his opponent and is able to defend almost every spot on the floor as well as any other. And if he needs to handle a big, he will push back in the post to the best of his ability.
Schroeder averaged 5.8 points per game last season but the most impressive part by far is the team returning second best 6.3 rebounds that he handled. Those rebounds are a direct reminder that Schroeder is essentially everywhere on the floor at once, or that is how it seems at least. The improvements he has made since last season ended make him a potential lead guard on both ends of the floor for the Cougars. He can be the first line of defense but he also averaged 3.5 assists per game and can make plays if slotted at point guard.
COACH’S QUOTE ON RYAN SCHROEDER
“Ryan has a very high basketball IQ. Ryan does all of the dirty work and makes game winning plays. Ryan defends, rebounds, and passes the ball at a very high level. He is willing to do whatever the team needs to be successful.” – Central Noble coach John Bodey
No. 47 CJ Pieper, Bishop Dwenger
As the Saints teetered around the middle of the SAC, Pieper probably didn’t get the consideration from others that he deserved. He is a just a balanced guy who may not be a star at any one thing but he can certainly chip in on a quality level in almost every area. That balance makes him a threat because you can’t really prepare for Pieper in one particular way. The Saints have long thrived, not on traditional stars, but on guys who are willing to be whoever coach Matt Kostoff needs on any given night. He is the type of player that inspires those around him because he just has a high motor and can go. Things like that have always kept Dwenger in the conversation of almost any game that they have played. Pieper is a prototypical Bishop Dwenger player and that is a good thing to have said about you.
Pieper was an All-SAC Honorable Mention pick a season ago and if you want to know the type of impact he can have, you can look at his heady play down the stretch of a win against Northrop last season that may have been the most important contribution in what may have been the area’s best game. Pieper is poised under pressure. If he ever waivers, it is certainly internal because you can’t see it on the court.
No. 46 Judah Simfukwe, Warsaw
As Warsaw keeps improving, Simfukwe is a big catalyst for rises in the program. He is a score first type of guard that is a solid shooter, but his most impressive element comes when teams worry about where he will pass the ball or if he is going to pull up too shoot. That is because Simfukwe can change speeds on a dime and when he ramps it up from the volleyball line down to the three point line, he is practically impossible to cut off. That change of speed is a major highlight of his game. In February of last year, more of that and other offensive weapons started to put Simfukwe on a high level scoring wise in the NLC race. That put him on a highly competitive All-NLC first team. He can score on a couple of levels and his long range ability is improving too.
Defensively, Simfukwe is what Warsaw basketball likes to refer to as old school tough. He settled into that role long before their coaching change that brought an old school feel last season to the Tigers. He is a hard line defender that doesn’t allow for his man to ever create much space and that makes it difficult for schools to avoid him. He is incredibly tough because of his defensive movement. Simfukwe averaged 12 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 2020-2021.
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