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 2022-23 season.
Today, we unveil five of the best in the area at positions No. 35-31.
No. 35: Dusty Pearson, Jay County
Pearson is also strong driver, leveraging his strength and length to get to the rim. He might not be lightning quick, but he’s patient with the ball in his hands while taking it to the rack. Surveying the floor for the right opportunity comes natural to the Jay. County Patriot and he has good change of speed in the midrange area. With the ball in his hands, Pearson is fundamental in using pump fakes and jabs to get his defender off balance before taking them to the basket or pulling up. He can score on the move and has his length can make him a matchup problem inside. Pearson averaged 7.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 53.6 percent from the field last season.
No. 34: Ethan Bontrager, Fremont
As everyone should tell you leading into the season, Bontrager isn’t just a shooter at this point in his career. But it is important to also note that Bontrager is an absolute flame thrower when he gets going. He is one of the best pure shooters in the area and while he shouldn’t get pigeonholed as that, it is only fair to acknowledge how knockdown of a performer he continues to be. That said, he has added strength to his game and has become a big threat at getting to the rim especially working the baseline on his drives and finishing well through contact. Bontrager averaged 11.5 points and three rebounds per game last season while shooting 39 percent from the three point line.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ETHAN BONTRAGER
“I’m excited for him to get to showcase his abilities. This is his 3rd year as a starter, and his first year without Bock, Pentecost and Brace. With those guys gone I think he will be able to show more parts of his game. Right now, I think people see him as “just a shooter,” but he can do a lot more than ‘just shoot.'” – Fremont coach Josh Stuckey
No. 33: Braden Smith, Woodlan
Smith can hang his hat as one of the best pure shooters in the area and has hit some big and timely shots along the way to prove it, including a game winner at Leo last season. Smith averaged 10 points and three rebounds per game last season and hit four or more threes six times; the Warrior were 4-2 in those games. Last season, Smith took a big step forward defensively. He isn’t flashy but he does things very fundamentally well and can be smothering at times. Getting a good look with Smith defending you is particularly difficult and it has helped his game become more well rounded.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRADEN SMITH
“Braden Smith has been a key part of our Varsity team during his first two high school seasons. He is an excellent competitor that has been willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to become a very good high school player. Braden is one of the best perimeter shooters in the area, but has proven to be capable of scoring at all three levels. His defense and rebounding continue to improve each year. He will again be one of the best players in our conference and an important leader for our team.” – Woodlan coach John Baker
No. 32: Caden Pettis, DeKalb
Pettis is an incredibly fun player to watch and his athleticism is only growing as time passes. He has become a high level scorer that isn’t afraid to take the open shot after shooting over 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from long range last season for the Barons. He is a sturdy and physical guard that looks to make the right play every chance he gets. Pettis is a good all around performer and can rebound the basketball efficiently as well as being useable as a lead guard. He posted a near triple double last season agains Heritage, showcasing how he just does a lot of things very well.
COACH’S QUOTE ON CADEN PETTIS
“Caden has worked extremely hard this offseason to improve his strength and skill. We are expecting him to be a versatile player for us.” – DeKalb coach Marty Beasley
No. 31: Brady Yoder, Westview
Yoder has really flexed his muscles at becoming a multi-tool scorer when the Warriors have needed him to battle. Yoder is a great lead guard for a new coach at Westview and his experience and heady game play will help quickly to any stylistic changes the Warriors need to make. He makes the right play most of the time and that is something you really need out of a program point guard. Yoder can scorer at three levels well but he will make the pass first if it is the right play.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRADY YODER
“Brady is a strong guard that can score multiple ways and make plays for others. He leads our group by example. For us to be at our best, we will lead heavily on him throughout the season.” – Westview coach Chandler Prible
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