“Hoops” Strickler breaks down top senior boys basketball players
by Tom Strickler
I can tell by the old clock on the wall it’s that time of the year, Thanksgiving. Christmas is just around the corner, a chilling reminder that old man winter is just around the miserable corner.
But not to worry, it’s time for hoops, baby!
Here’s my top players in the Class of 2020.
1. Justin Lewis, Poly, 6-foot-7, combo forward
Lewis has grown into the consummate combination forward who likes to mix it up inside and extend out to mid perimeter for a nice looking jumper, even bringing to ball up year court whenever necessary. Marquette University and coach Steve Wojciechowski is getting a good one.
1. Adrian “Ace” Baldwin, St. Frances Academy, 6-1, point guard
It’s difficult to separate Baldwin and Lewis at No. 1. Baldwin has become the purest of point guards, always saving his best for late game heroics, “a gamer” as they say. Once a glider, Baldwin, a Virginia Commonwealth recruit, is a complete floor general with his vision and an improving jumper.
3. Jamal West, St. Frances Academy, 6-5, combo forward
“Warrior West” is the toughest kid on the block. A double-double machine and relentless inside worker, West has added a jump shot as he will takes his talents down to South Alabama.
4. Brandon Murray, Poly, 6-4, shooting guard
Lighter and svelte, this versatile power guard who can flick a 3-pointer or power his way to the rim, Murray is primed to have a big year for three-time defending Class 3A state champ Engineers. He’s a mid-to-high major Division I talent.
5. Rahim Ali, Poly, 5-11, point guard
A solid playmaker with a sweet stroke, Ali, a four-year starter, is biggest reason Engineers have become elite. An intense competitor, Ali will make some mid-major program very happy.
6. Tyler Brelsford, Mount St. Joseph, 6-4, combo guard
Brelsford has gotten stronger and better with the ball to go along with bonafide jumper. He’ll be ask to do a lot in Irvington this winter before heading to George Washington next season.
7. Michael Gray, Lake Clifton, 5-11, point guard
Power point who can deal it or finish it jumper going in with more regularity. A football standout as well, Gray appears to be a mid-major lock for basketball.
8. Jordan Toles, St. Frances Academy, 6-2, shooting guard
A football standout, Toles can do it on the hardwood, using his great athleticism to finish on defenders or pluck a needed rebound. Set play both sports at LSU next season, Toles has football skill set that could have him playing on Sunday afternoons in a few years.
9. Jason Edokpayi, Mount St. Joseph, 6-6, forward
After up-and-down junior season, Edokpayi came on the spring/summer circuit. Looking for Fairfield recruit to have breakout year for Gaels with his athleticism and scoring ability.
10. Will Thomas, Mervo, 6-5, small forward
Thomas appears to be fully recovered from ACL injury that shelved him last season. He’s a multi-talented ambidextrous wing who keep defenders off-balance with ability to score from outside in.
11. Martaz Robinson, New Town, 6-2, point guard
Heady with good size, Robinson is the truest of floor generals. He should flourished at Delaware State, starting next season.
12. Jordan Brathwaite, Glenelg Country School, 6-6, small forward
A rebounding machine, Brathwaite is gaining strength and confidence on the offensive side. Division I programs will start to notice and they should.
13. Cameron Byers, Dulaney, 6-6, combo forward
Burly-banger Byers has refined his game on the perimeter and can knock down a 3-pointer or knock down a defender in his way to the hoop. Starting to get strong mid-major interest.
14. Mitchell Fischer, Loyola Blakefield, 6-8, power forward
Fischer is now becoming a stretch-4 with a consistent 3-pointer to compliment strong inside game. He’s a bonafide Division I prospect.
15. Elijah Rantin, Mervo, 6-9, center
Emerging pivot who shows great touch around the basket. Rankin will make a Division I program happy down the road.
Best of the rest: Ian Wallace, Poly, 6-7, combo forward; Andrew Mills, New Town, 6-4, forward; Noah Charles, Glenelg Country School, 5-11, point guard; Zac Blackwell, Lake Clifton, 5-11, combo guard
Editor’s note: Outside of VSN’s own Derek Toney, nobody watches more boys high school basketball than Tommy “Hoops” Strickler, the scouting guru with the Hoop Group. Strickler has been on the recruiting scene for more than 35 years…a little longer than Derek.