High school boys basketball sectional play is barely over a month away, which means it’s time to home in on the top teams and the players who make them go.
IndyStar Indiana All-Star games director Charlie Hall is doing the same. Hall will announce the 13-member boys All-Star team about mid-April. There are certainly several players who are “locks” to make the team, but others — like Gary 21st Century guard Eugene German last year — who still have plenty of time to make a strong case down the homestretch of the season.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to put myself in Hall’s shoes. There are eight players I’d consider to have solidified a spot on the team barring something strange happening. Here are those eight, in alphabetical order:
• Jaylen Butz, Fort Wayne North Side: The 6-9 Butz has the potential to make some Big Ten programs wish they’d pursued him harder. As it is, the DePaul recruit is having a big senior season for a Fort Wayne North Side program that is 16-1 and ranked No. 4 in Class 4A. Butz is averaging 17.0 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 blocked shots per game.
• Jermaine Couisnard, East Chicago Central: The 6-3 Couisnard went for 45 points in an 82-79 win over Evansville Bosse, and followed it with a 36-point night against North Central. Couisnard, who has a handful of Division I offers, is averaging 22.6 points per game for the 9-6 Cardinals.
• Zach Gunn, Hamilton Southeastern: The 6-6 Gunn, a four-year starter, is having his best season. He’s averaging 21.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shooting 56 percent from the field. HSE is 13-3 against one of the state’s toughest schedules. Gunn is uncommitted with Ball State and Indiana in the mix.
• Cooper Neese, Cloverdale: The 6-4 Neese is having another big season, averaging 28.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals for the Class 2A Clovers (14-5). The Butler recruit is hitting at a 40-percent clip from the 3-point line (84-for-208). Neese has 2,277 career points.
• Jack Nunge, Castle: The 6-9 Nunge is the centerpiece for a Castle team that is 16-2 and ranked No. 8 in Class 4A. The Iowa recruit is averaging 22.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots per game for the Knights. He’s also hitting 39 percent from the 3-point line (28-for-72).
• Sasha Stefanovic, Crown Point: The 6-4 Stefanovic has been the catalyst for a Crown Point team that is 13-2 and will play at Warren Central on Saturday. He is averaging 20.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and shooting 39 percent (35-for-90) from the 3-point line. Stefanovic is considering offers from Evansville, Loyola (Ill.), Northern Iowa, St. Joseph’s and Valparaiso.
• Kris Wilkes, North Central: The 6-7 Wilkes was recently named to the McDonald’s All American team, and is headed to UCLA after this season. He’s averaging 22.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line for the Class 4A second-ranked Panthers (14-2).
• Malik Williams, Fort Wayne Snider: The 7-foot Williams, a Louisville recruit, was (perhaps surprisingly) not picked for the McDonald’s All American team. But he should be in the discussion for IndyStar Mr. Basketball, presented by the Indiana Pacers. Williams is averaging 24.1 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots per game and shooting 40 percent (31-for-77) from the 3-point line. Snider is 8-5.
That’s eight on this list. That would leave five more spots available. I’m going to give you 18 possibilities. Remember, Hall is also attempting to fill out a roster and not necessarily just pick the top 13 players:
• Jalen Adaway, Logansport: The 6-4 Adaway is a key cog for a Logansport team that is 15-1 and ranked No. 5 in Class 4A. The uncommitted Adaway, owner of several highlight-reel dunks, is averaging 15.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 blocked shots.
• Mark Albers, Pendleton Heights: The 6-4 Albers has led the Arabians to a 12-3 record, averaging 19.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line (46-for-120). A highlight was a 37-point night against Hamilton Southeastern.
• Sterling Brown, Carmel: The 6-foot point guard has been a catalyst for Carmel’s Class 4A No. 3 ranking and 12-2 record. Brown, who is uncommitted, is averaging 17.4 points, 2.7 assists and shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line (48-for-95).
• Haden Deaton, McCutcheon: The 6-3 Deaton, after helping McCutcheon to the Class 4A state finals as a junior, is averaging 20.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the 13-2 Mavericks.
• Michael Ertel, Mt. Vernon: The 6-foot Ertel, a Louisiana-Monroe recruit, is averaging 21.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and shooting 41 percent (39-for-95) from the 3-point line for the 7-5 Marauders.
• Jack Ferguson, Homestead: The 6-3 Ferguson has built on a strong junior season by averaging 18.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists for 11-3 Homestead. He’s shooting 39 percent (39-for-101) from the 3-point line.
• Matt Jennings, Logansport: The 6-foot guard has put together a strong senior season, averaging 21.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the Class 4A fifth-ranked Berries (15-1). He’s shooting 41 percent (30-for-74) from the 3-point line.
• Ra Kpedi, Lawrence North: The 6-8 Kpedi is a strong low-post presence for the 10-4 Wildcats, and was the only Lawrence North player selected to the Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament team in December. The uncommitted Kpedi is averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.
• Emmanuel Little, North Central: The 6-5 Little has been big for the Class 4A second-ranked Panthers (14-2), averaging 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. Little also has hit 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.
• Kyle Mangas, Warsaw: The 6-3 Mangas is averaging 21.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and is shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line (30-for-78) for 11-5 Warsaw.
• Courvoisier McCauley, Manual: The 6-5 McCauley, who his headed to prep school next year, is averaging exactly 30 points per game after helping the Redskins to the City tournament finals and a 12-2 overall record.
• Jaylen Minnett, Terre Haute South: The 6-foot guard, an IUPUI recruit, carried the Braves to an upset win over North Central in last year’s regional. Minnett has backed it up by averaging 25.7 points, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game this season on a 12-3 team.
• Mateo Rivera, North Central: The 6-foot Rivera is averaging 13.1 points, 4.0 assists and is shooting 35.4 percent from the 3-point line this season for the Class 4A second-ranked Panthers (14-2).
• Nike Sibande, Crispus Attucks: The 6-3 Sibande, who reopened his recruitment from IUPUI, is putting up 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and shooting 59 percent from the field for the 10-4 Tigers.
• Grant Smith, Connersville: The 6-6 Smith is averaging 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists for 15-1 Connersville, which is looking to build on last year’s 21-win season and sectional title.
• Mack Smith, Warren Central: The 6-1 guard has led Warren Central to a 12-1 record and No. 6 ranking in Class 4A. Smith is averaging 20.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line (33-for-66) against one of the state’s toughest schedules.
• Tyler Smith, Northeastern: The 6-foot guard and Florida Southern recruit was a Junior All-Star last year, and is averaging 24.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.1 steals per game for Class 2A sixth-ranked Northeastern (12-4).
• Kobe Webster, Park Tudor: The 6-foot Webster is averaging 16.8 points, 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds and is shooting 37 percent from the 3-point line for Park Tudor, which is 13-3 and ranked No. 5 in Class 3A.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.