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. 35-31
No. 35 Grant Brown, Snider
Brown’s game really pushed forward later in the season in 2020-21 when coach Jeremy Rauch really showed that he wanted and needed Brown on the court. He still needs to find some consistency in his shot but once he gets going, Brown can really be a knockdown guy that Snider sees as a late game threat for them. He has been able improve his lateral movement and his ability to get around without the ball to become more of a consistent threat. That will help him get more games where he is burying several triples a night. Last season, he shined brightest doing that three times: 3-of-5 against Wayne, 3-of-4 against Carroll and 4-of-7 against Blackhawk Christian. The question on Brown is what he will do this season when chased off the line; less than 17 percent of his shots last season came inside the arc.
Brown is just a hard nosed kid defensively that that has a knack for the aggression needed in the SAC. He had six multiple steal games last season, including three steals each against two of the tougher guard teams on Snider’s schedule last season: North Side and Churubusco. He is a fighter and that is a great fit for a team that can really be a 3-and-D threat.
COACH’S QUOTE ON GRANT BROWN
“Grant epitomizes Unseen Hours. He has taken his shot to another level, adding both range and movement to his 3 point prowess. Grant should pose mismatches with opposing teams, as he has the strength to defend most bigs, while creating space for us offensively on the perimeter.” – Snider coach Jeremy Rauch
No. 34. Gabel Pentecost, Fremont
Pentecost really should be getting a lot more buzz. Pentecost is one of the most intelligent guards in the area, instead of relying on raw physical talent, which he had plenty of too. Pentecost utilizes high level basketball IQ and feel, contorting defenses to his will. He has a pretty innate ability to see the floor and put the ball in the right places because of how he can accelerate defenses at a rate that they don’t like. The more that he can exploit opposing defenders with his ball handling, the more cerebral that he can play in the NECC and he really looked to be getting there last season. Pentecost became a very solid player in transition who can push the ball and make the right decision or fill the wings and spot up for a deep shot.
Pentcost is another top three point threat for Fremont who has plenty to choose from. He is a dagger shooter, so when we say his off the dribble acceleration can change things, this is what we mean. If you are too worried about Pentecost getting to the rim, then he will hurt you from deep if given space. He is a good catch and shoot player and can also shoot threes off movement because he reads the defense well when running around screens. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds last season while hitting 43 percent of his three pointers.
COACH’S QUOTE ON GABEL PENTECOST
“Gabel Pentecost is a special human being. First, and most importantly, he is a great person. Athletically, I’m not sure if there is anyone in our conference that has all of the things he has- acceleration, vertical jump, speed, lateral quickness, strength- he has it all. Last year it took him about half the season or so to get comfortable in the offense. He got off to a very poor shooting start, and he still broke our school record for 3pt% in a season last year. He has been working on his game nonstop since our Regional loss last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing the type of season he puts together.” – Fremont coach Josh Stuckey
No. 33 Issac Zay, Bishop Luers
One of the highest level playing freshmen to break onto the scene in the SAC last season, Zay was a name that was brought up a lot by coach Fonso White before he ever played a high school game. Zay seems to know his capabilities and doesn’t try to force outside of those, yet is still building them constantly. Every team needs a deep range threat who is more than competent in other areas of their game and Zay clearly tries to improve on all of that if you watch him one week and then come back to see him 10 days later. He averaged 9.4 points and 1.1 steals per game as a freshman, but also showed that he can rebound and has good enough court vision that lead guard duties won’t evade him. As he continues to improve in multiple areas, he is bound to be one of the best players in the SAC sooner than later.
Two of Zay’s more impressive games came with 18 points opposite eventual state champion Blackhawk Christian and 24 against Winchester and he shot a combined 18-of-24 in those games. Zay’s eyes are always up, he sees plays developing and gets passes to the right guy or moves to the right spot. His vision will improve but is at a solid level already as Luers will look for him to handle those spots much more moving forward. Zay is just a strong varsity athlete no matter what sport he is playing and despite what some may have you think, that does translate.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ISAAC ZAY
“Great shooter has potential to even get 1,000 points; would like to see him be more of a 3D player this year; decent defender would like to more pressure. I don’t know if he is vocal or not but would like to know he is a leader. Would like to see how he reacts as a main ball handler under pressure as well. Also l love that he got stronger over the summer and worked on his body. Overall I believe he is a great athlete and has lots of potential in any of his sports.” – Bishop Luers coach Fonso White
No. 32 Brashawn Bassett, North Side
Tough as nails is the way to describe Bassett, who instantly made it known when he came onto the varsity scene as a freshman that he refuses to be considered off anybody’s level. Bassett will come in with the attitude that he can play with everyone and it makes for a lot of intensity coming from him nightly. What makes that mindset more realistic? Bassett can get to the rim with aggression and authority and is often like a freight train when he wants to get there. As last season progressed, Bassett’s range started to really expand and made him a threat on all three levels. Although, Johnson has to become a more reliable shooter and a smarter driver to truly succeed, he’s a very smart player and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for jump starting a lot of things at North Side.
Now as a junior, Bassett is going to be expected to make a shift. He represented youth in a rebuilding program at North Side as a freshman and now he is really going to be leaned on in ways to be mature as a junior. He is going to have to take the bull by the horns and be a good leader, physically and vocally. Bassett averaged 12.5 points per game last season with 1.5 assists per game to boot. Do the numbers need to go up? Not exactly. How can Bassett make those more impactful though? That toughness and tenacity he has must permeate through the team and as a junior and an expected leader, Bassett can make that happen by harnessing his ability into building up others.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRASHAWN BASSETT
“Brashawn’s intensity is really important to us. He plays hard and doesn’t back down. He can score and has a great 15 feet and in jumper and shot the 3 well last year. Especially at the end of the year. We need him to be a defensive stopper for us along with Rodney Woods.” – North Side coach Gary Andrews
No. 31 Zach Hubartt, Huntington North
The turnover at Huntington North in the last handful of seasons has been made smoother by Hubartt’s blue collar approach. What could take him to the next level is a possible ability to really defend at a high level. It is something we have seen looks at over the past two seasons, but the Vikings will rely heavily on this season with Hubartt as a clear leader for the program; he did have 1.2 steals per game in 2020-21. He is a score first guard that will rely on decent length for his size, but also pretty quality athleticism within a Northeast 8 that has hung its hat on solid athletes in the past few seasons. He really looks to be one of the breakout stars of the season for those who don’t know much about him.
Will he find more comfort in being a lead guard or a shooting guard? It may not matter other than his distribution ability. Hubartt is good as a lead guard that can find guys in transition, but then also still spot up after he makes that pass to become a shooting threat too; he averaged 16.7 points per game last season. He’s a confident dribbler with a good ability for creating space, which helps him get to the paint or find some space for a step-back jumper, making him a growing shot creator for Huntington North.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ZACH HUBARTT
“Zach Hubartt is going to be a 3 year starter for us. He is an outstanding young man who loves the game of basketball. He is very athletic and can score the ball at 3 levels. He led us in scoring and rebounding last year and will see everyone’s best defender. We need him to lead us with his ability and experience.” – Huntington North coach Craig Teagle
PREVIOUSLY IN THE COUNTDOWN