By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Basketball season is underway in Missouri. Below are the Class 4 Boys Basketball Players to Watch along with a breakout player.
NOTE: MSHSAA won’t be releasing new class and district assignments until Friday, Dec. 11. WE ARE USING LAST YEAR’S CLASSIFICATIONS for our watchlists. There will be SIGNIFICANT changes to classes when the new assignements come out, as Missouri is adding a sixth class of basketball this year.
• Logan Applegate, Nevada Senior
A four-year letterman, Applegate has put together one of the best careers in program history. The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2.2 steals, earning All-Big 8 honors. His basketball IQ is off the charts, with a skillset that isn’t far behind, which is why he currently holds multiple D1 offers.
• Landon Austin, Neosho Senior
Last year was a coming out party for Austin, who went from playing sparingly as a sophomore to having an All-COC and All-District junior campaign, leading Neosho to a district runner-up finish. The 6-foot combo guard averaged 17.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Austin put up seven 20-point games, including a season-high 30 points against Branson.
• Trey Brown, Rolla Senior
Brown is a big wing with a great feel for the game. His mid-range game is already well developed and he shoots it extremely well, especially for his 6-foot-5 frame. He averaged 12 points and five rebounds as a junior. His inside-out ability and overall skillset should allow those numbers to jump this year. He’s such a good passer that it is difficult to run double teams at him.
• Crishawn Haggard, Hillcrest Senior
Few guards are more entertaining than Haggard. As a junior he led Hillcrest in scoring (20 PPG), assists (3.5 APG) and steals (1.4 SPG). He’ll surpass 1,000 points this winter, which could happen quickly if he keeps dropping 40-point bombs like he did against Central last year. The 6-foot guard has a ton of wiggle and a great feel for the game.
• Kanon Gipson, Rogersville Senior
Gipson is a 6-foot-3 point guard that has played in as many big games as any local point guard. As a junior he averaged 9.4 points and 4.6 assists, earning his second district title at Rogersville. The slick guard has made a living setting up big-name teammates, look for him to show is all-around ability as Rog’s go-to option.
• Taylor Harrison, West Plains Senior
An All-Ozark Conference pick as a junior, the 6-foot-4 wing led West Plains in scoring (13.7 points) and rebounding (5.9 rebounds) last year. He’s another four-year player with a ton of experience and vast skillset. His ability to post guards and take bigs off the dribble will again cause matchup nightmares.
• Nickhai Howard, Webb City Senior
Howard is one of the area’s top two-way point guards. As a junior, he averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.3 steals for an Elite Eight team. He’s a stat-sheet stuffer that flirted with triple-doubles on numerous occasions and is one of few players that can change a game without scoring a point.
• Kyle Pock, Bolivar Sophomore
His freshman season was nothing short of impressive, with the 6-foot-7 combo forward averaging 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Since then, Division One programs have been drooling all over his potential. Missouri State offered and watching his game he’ll remind you of a former local standout and current Bear… Jared Ridder.
OTHERS TO WATCH
• Zach Bergmann, Rogersville Senior
• Danny Foster, Rolla Senior
• Lance Hafar, Reeds Spring Senior
• Cole Martin, McDonald County Junior
• Joel Mason, Camdenton Senior
• Peyton McBride, Marshfield Junior
• Lane & Logan McNeley, Nevada Seniors
• Lucas Morrison, Salem Senior
Class 4 Breakout Player: Cohl Vaden, Webb City
As a sophomore, Vaden was the spark off the bench for Webb City’s Elite Eight team. He put up 8.8 points, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. But again, the graduation of Terrell Kabala (Arkansas-Fort Smith) and Tanner Rodgers (C of O) will lead to the never gun-shy Vaden. He had a monster summer, this will be a coming out party for the 5-foot-10 guard.