MARION CLASSIC: Five players (from outside the area) to watch
Looking for an appetizer before Christmas and next week’s SAC Holiday Tournament? Marion delivers with a one-day shootout on Friday with six games, including plenty of local flavor with Snider, Bishop Dwenger, North Side and Wayne all getting in on the festive fun.
We know who leads the area teams on the floor, but what about some of the players outside of the region who will be playing on Friday?
We take a look at five players to know at Marion.
DRE DAVIS, LAWRENCE CENTRAL (vs. Lighthouse CPA, 2 p.m.)
A rising sophomore under former New Haven coach Al Gooden, Davis has the handles to play the guard spot with the size (6-foot-5) to be a threat closer to the basket.
Davis leads the Bears in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (6 rpg), but is still prone to underclass miscues.
But make no mistake, Davis and fellow sophomore Nijel Pack have Lawrence Central shaping up to be mighty tough in the coming years.
ERIC HUNTER, INDIANAPOLIS TINDLEY (vs. Snider, 3:30 p.m.)
After leading Tindley to a Class A state title last season, Hunter is back and continues to punish the opposition.
The 6-foot-3 combo guard is averaging over 25 points per game for one of Indiana’s best Class A squads while also leading the Tigers in both rebounds and assists.
While Hunter is a proven scorer, he is a smart player in that he rarely forces shots. The senior facilitates well to teammates and won’t grow impatient when defenses key on him, which they often do.
Hunter is a four-star recruit and is committed to Purdue. He hopes to be a two-time state champion before heading to West Lafayette.
LATRELL WILLIAMS, GARY ROOSEVELT (vs. Bishop Dwenger, 5 p.m.)
Williams was a beast in all facets last year for Roosevelt as it claimed its first sectional crown since 2009. Now a senior, the 6-3 forward is taking it up a notch, averaging a double-double for the 1-5 Panthers.
While the start of the season hasn’t been kind to Roosevelt and first-year coach James Scott, Williams has been nothing short of sensational. While big and physical enough to battle in the paint, he is at his best when he can stretch the defense and rise up from the outside or attack the basket off the dribble.
How the Saints combat Williams will go a long way in determining if Dwenger can earn an early Christmas present.
BRANDON NEWMAN, VALPARAISO (vs. North Side, 6:30 p.m.)
Last year, Newman was an oft-unseen sophomore on a senior-laden squad. This year, he is the go-to for coach Barak Coolman, the former head coach of the Northrop Bruins.
A 6-4 forward with a bit of scoring touch from the outside, Newman has put on some bulk that allows him to consistently gain better position in the paint. He is as effective on the glass as he is as a scorer, and he is nearly automatic from the free throw line.
Many Midwest mid-majors, including Fort Wayne, have Newman on their radar.
JALEN BLACKMON, MARION (vs. Wayne, 8 p.m.)
The younger brother of James Jr. and Vijay, the freshman Jalen has hit the ground running in the infancy of his prep career.
The rookie is averaging over 18 points per game and leads the young Giants in scoring.
Jalen, a 6-1 point, looks every bit the part of a high school star with plenty of physical and mental growth to come. Coached by his dad and former Bishop Luers coach James Blackmon Sr., Jalen has the green light as Marion’s primary outside shooter.
Coupled with some sophomore Jaklyen Thomas and juniors Dre Aguilar and Latrell Simpson, this is a Giants team poised for big things over the next few years.
The showdown with Craig Young and Co. in the final game of the day will be one to see.