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Season Drawing Near: Boys Basketball Players to Watch in 2021-22

HANCOCK COUNTY — The 2021-22 high school boys basketball season is less than a week away.

Mt. Vernon’s Armon Jarrard (11) puts up a layup as two New Palestine defenders look on during their game on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (Rob Baker/Daily Reporter)

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The 2021-22 high school boys basketball season is less than a week away.

While many players have been training for the upcoming campaign over the past several months and further honed their skills through the AAU summer circuit, high school teams commenced their first official practices on Nov. 8.

We are now only six day from the season’s opening tip with a pair of Hancock County schools ready to take flight, including Class 4A Greenfield-Central at 3A Beech Grove and Mt. Vernon at 4A Lawrence Central on Tuesday night.

Class 2A Eastern Hancock opens on Wednesday at Historic Hoosiers Gym in Knightstown against 2A Centerville as part of the venue’s 100th-year anniversary celebration.

Meanwhile, 4A New Palestine heads to 4A Richmond on Wednesday night.

This year, Greenfield-Central will play host to 4A Sectional 9, which includes defending champion Mt. Vernon, New Palestine, Anderson, Muncie Central, Pendleton Heights and Richmond.

Hagerstown hosts 2A Sectional 41 this year where Eastern Hancock, Cambridge City Lincoln, Centerville, Knightstown, Northeastern, Shenandoah and Union County fill out the eight-team field.

Sectional tournaments will open on March 1 with the state tournament draw set for Feb. 20. Regional tournaments are scheduled for March 12 and semistates will be conducted on March 19. The IHSAA State Finals are on March 26 in downtown Indianpolis at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

First things first, however.

Before teams can think about March or cutting down nets, there are 14 weeks of regular-season action ahead.

With that in mind, here are, in no particular order, a few of many players to watch from Hancock County this hoops season.

Amhad Jarrard, Mt. Vernon

One of several standout seniors to keep an eye on this winter, Amhad Jarrard, a 6-foot-5 guard, has already cemented his collegiate future by committing to IUPUI.

Praised for his “flat out explosive” athleticism by IUPUI men’s basketball program, Jarrard played for George Hill All Indy this offseason and was named to the 2021 All-NY2LA Basketball Association First Team.

Jarrard’s stock skyrocketed this spring and summer, as he netted several offers and interests from NCAA Division I programs.

As a junior for the Marauders in 2020-21, Jarrard was named All-Hoosier Heritage Conference and the Daily Reporter All-County Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

He averaged 12.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. In his career, Jarrard has 529 points while shooting 51 percent from the field. He has 179 career rebounds to go with 130 assists and 61 steals. He set single-season career highs in points (309), steals (35) and blocks (17) last season.

Named IBCA large school underclass all-state honorable mention in 2020-21, Jarrard is primed to help the Marauders chase down a potential sectional repeat, the school’s first since winning three straight in 1990-92. Last year’s sectional title marked the program’s second in four years.

Armon Jarrard, Mt. Vernon

A 6-3 senior point guard, Armon Jarrard earned some bragging rights over his twin brother, Amhad, by being named IBCA large school underclass all-state, in addition to earning All-Hoosier Heritage Conference honors in 2020-21.

But as one goes, so does the other, and both are signed to continue their basketball careers at IUPUI in 2022-23.

Armon nearly matched Amhad in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game as a junior, while besting his sibling in rebounds (4.0) and steals (2.2). An all-around contributor on the court, Armon also averaged 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest.

As a junior, Armon amassed 306 points and shot 56 percent from the field, while converting 42 percent of his 3-pointers at 36-for-86 in 24 games.

His 96 rebounds in 2020-21 were a single-season, career high along with his points, 55 assists, 52 steals and 14 blocks.

It appears Armon is just touching his potential as a breakout star that could challenge for county player of the year honors.

IUPUI announced on social media its excitement to lock down Armon for his “knockdown” shooting ability.

Dylan Moles, Greenfield-Central

It’s difficult to remember that Greenfield-Central’s Dylan Moles, a 6-1 guard, is only a junior.

A standout freshman starter in 2019-20, Moles has been a versatile scoring threat his entire high school career to date. Able to attack the rim, absorb contact, find the open man through double teams and swiftly slip through for a transition bucket, Moles averaged 14.2 points per game as a sophomore after posting 9.1 a contest as a freshman.

His 340 points in 2020-21 marked a single-season, career best, which he posted by shooting 49 percent from the field. He shot 44 percent from 3-point range (58 of 131) and was 79 percent from the free-throw line.

While a point guard, Moles hauled in 74 rebounds, had 76 assists and 47 steals last season.

He was named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team and IBCA large school underclass all-state honorable mention.

Steele Brasfield, New Palestine

Another star senior in the county, 6-6 wing, Steele Brasfield led the New Palestine Dragons in scoring last season and is on track to do the same in 2021-22.

Brasfield has committed to Indiana Tech an NAIA program in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.

Known for his dunking ability, Brasfield can shoot just as well, burying 51 of 125 attempts from 3-point range as a junior at 41 percent. He averaged a team-best 17.2 points per game last season and added 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals.

He finished his junior campaign with 396 points while shooting 49 percent from the field and collected 141 rebounds with 41 assists and 30 steals.

Named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team in 2020-21, Brasfield’s on-court competitiveness and intensity could power the Dragons back to a sectional title after a run of two in a row from 2019-20 led by former star Maximus Gizzi.

Brasfield earned IBCA large school underclass all-state honorable mention distinction in 2020-21.

Blaine Nunnally, New Palestine

A junior this season, Nunnally, a 5-11 guard, provides the New Palestine Dragons with a solid 1-2 punch alongside Steele Brasfield. Both were key contributors during the program’s sectional repeat in 2019-20 and continue to build off their early success as maturing team leaders.

Nunnally was second in scoring for the Dragons last year, averaging 16.7 points per game. He posted 3.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.0 steals per contest as well.

His 351 points as a junior gives him 478 points in his two-year career. He shot 46 percent from the field and knocked down 32 percent of his 3-pointers (22 of 69) as a junior. He rarely missed a free throw, firing at 84 percent (103 of 122) and from 2-point he converted at 51 percent.

Another IBCA large school underclass all-state honorable mention, Nunnally can take a game over, if needed, and it earned him All-Hoosier Heritage Conference honors as well in 2020-21.

Landon O’Neal, Eastern Hancock

Much like Nunnally, Eastern Hancock’s Landon O’Neal is a true athlete.

Hardly a specialist, O’Neal, a 6-0 guard, is a multi-sport standout, but he has carved out his place among the county’s top basketball standouts.

In 2020-21, O’Neal led the 2A Royals in scoring with 15.8 points per game. He has already surpassed the 1,000-point career mark with 1,003 through 71 games. He shot 45 percent from the field last year for a single-season, career-best 395 points. He buried 43 of 140 jumpers from 3-point range, which gave him 173 makes in three years.

His 99 rebounds as a junior was a single-season high for him, and he added 34 assists and 14 steals. He has 188 rebounds in his career.

Simply put, when O’Neal’s shot is falling, the points follow and it earned him All-Mid-Eastern Conference honors, a trend that should continue this winter.

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