With around 120 school districts in the southwest Missouri coverage area, it is a given that there are many great players that fall through the cracks and do not get the recognition that they deserve. This is especially true in the outlying areas that simply do not get the same kind of media coverage that players closer to Springfield, the hub of southwest Missouri, receive. And then there are those players that are overlooked because they play on teams with more heralded teammates.
Here, we cover a few players on the boys side that we feel do not get their due attention. We feel that colleges looking for good potential recruits should pay attention to these players, some of who have not committed yet or much less received due attention.
Jamen Smith, 6’0 Buffalo 2021 – Smith is a tremendous all around athlete who also excels as a quarterback in football. A natural leader, Smith has a very high basketball IQ and has a great work ethic. He scored over 18 ppg last season to go along with 6 rpg, 5 apg, 3 spg and over a block a game, superb all around numbers for a high school player. Look for him to have a huge senior year for Buffalo.
Bode Abraham, 6’0 Buffalo 2021 – Abraham also deserves more attention just as his teammate Smith does. He puts in a lot of time in the gym and the weight room and has raised his game several levels over his high school career. Last year he scored over 14 ppg and was Buffalo’s most consistent outside shooter but he has become a top notch defender as well. This season, the extra strength he has gained is expected to help his ability to get to the rim and finish against taller defenders while also opening up more passing options. Like Smith, look for a stellar senior season from Abraham.
Kaden Daniels, 6’6 MV-Liberty, 2021 – Daniels has both size and strength and presents all kinds of matchup problems for opposing teams. He can knock down the 3 ball, often from a few feet behind the line, but also can go inside. Either way, he has a soft touch on his shot and we look for him to go out in a big way during his senior season. Last year, he averaged over 16 ppg and 6 rpg but both of those figures should go up significantly. A player with his combination of size, strength, and great shooting touch needs to be recognized and sought after by coaches at the next level.
Max Schnelle, 6’4 Lockwood 2021 – Schnelle is one of the most unique players in the entire state. At 6’4, over 200 pounds, and with tremendous strength for a high school basketball player (he’s a football standout as well), he is a point guard. His court vision is phenomenal and he loves to fire the long pass down the court to open teammates for easy layups. He is equally adept at finding open teammates in half court as well, often seeing things before anyone else does. He handles the ball well and has excellent mobility for a player his size. He can score from anywhere on the court, and regularly knocks down 3’s from well behind the arc. With his size and strength, he can also bull his way to the basket through and around defenders. He is the rare player that makes his teammates so much better and reminds us a lot of the male version of Katie Scott, who graduated from Carl Junction last season and is now slated to play D1 ball at Grand Canyon University. Check out Schnelle’s numbers from last season – 17 ppg, 9 rpg, 6 apg and over 3 steals per game. With those numbers and his overall skill set, we think it is a travesty that he did not make Class 1 all state. His high basketball IQ and unique sklll set to go along with his size and strength makes him a must-see player for next level coaches and basketball aficionados alike.
Blaine Garver, 5’11 Lockwood 2021 – Garver joins his Lockwood teammate on this list. Together the two seniors should lead their Lockwood team to an excellent season and a chance to go far in the post season. Garver put up 15 ppg, 3 rpg, and 3 apg last season and works well with Schnelle on the court, knowing where to go to get open and having the confidence to know Schnelle will deliver the pass. Garver is an intense competitor who also excels on the defensive end.
Andrew Dalton, 6’3 Ava 2022 – Dalton was the only sophomore in the state of Missouri to make the Class 3 all state team last season, but still is a player that flies under the radar a bit, playing in an outlying small town and along with most of the others in this article, being overshadowed by standout players closer to or in Springfield. Last season he averaged 19 ppg, over 8 rpg and nearly 3 apg, He is a versatile player who can score inside or out and can play or defend any of the five positions on the court. He has added some strength this past summer and we look for many more great things from Dalton this season and next. He is a player to go out of the way for to watch, if you have the chance.
Isaiah Smith, 5’10 Crane 2021 – Smith is the son of Crane coach Kevin Smith and has the high basketball IQ you would expect from a coach’s son. He is a great shooter and scorer but also makes a team better with his court vision, smarts, and passing. He put up averages of 15 ppg, 3 apg and 3 spg last season and with the graduation of primary ball handler and all state player Tyler Campbell, look for Smith to have the ball in his hands more this season with an accompanying escalation of his stats. Smith is a fun player to watch and we still expect Crane to be one of the better boys teams around this season.
Wilson Murray, 6’4 Licking 2021 – Murray is a lengthy guard who put up over 19 ppg, 9 rpg, 4 apg and nearly 4 steals per game last season for Licking, outstanding all around numbers for any player. At 6’4, he is a matchup problem for most teams at the guard position and shot over 35% from 3. He also has great court vision as his assists numbers attest to. Murray is a player who is getting some college interest and is one that needs to be watched this season. Players that average nearly 20 ppg, 10 rpg but also have his assists and steals numbers don’t grow on trees.
Jordan Andrews, 6’0 Thayer 2022 – Andrews put up big numbers – 19 ppg and 4 rpg – during an excellent sophomore season, numbers good enough to earn him a spot on the Missouri Class 2 All State team. He was the only sophomore selected to the team, and should only get better. Thayer returns all of their top players from a 22-win team last season so they will be a team to watch this season, along with their leading scorer Andrews. He is a polished offensive player for his age who can score at all three levels.
Lane Dunlap, 5’11 Golden City – Golden City made the final four last season in Class 1 and Dunlap was a big reason why. His natural charisma and take no prisoners attitude makes him a leader on and off the court. Few players bring it like he does, and with the graduation of standout Arlo Stump and his 22 ppg, Dunlap will assume the leadership mantle as he tries to get his squad back to the final four. He averaged 19 ppg, 7 rpg, and nearly 3 steals per game during his junior season. Make no mistake about it, there isn’t a school of any size in southwest Missouri that Dunlap would not stand out for and we look for an all state type of season from him. He and his Golden City team are talented and fun to watch, so if you are a true basketball junkie, make it a point to go catch some of their games.
Cameron Liggins, 6’2 Kickapoo 2021 – Liggins will be overlooked on an absolutely loaded Kickapoo squad this season, but he is a great player in his own right. Consider that even before the Chiefs added super studs Isaac “Ice” Haney and Trevon Brazile to their roster for this coming season, they made the Class 5 final four last season before MSHSAA shut it down. That is a credit to the talents of Mizzou-bound and fellow senior Anton Brookshire, but also to Liggins, who put up over 14 ppg and 6 rpg last season and was especially lethal in the postseason. He already has D1 offers rolling in and the word is that he may reclassify as a 2022 player. Either way, this is his last season for Poo and while his numbers won’t be in the stratosphere considering all the heralded teammates he has, Liggins should not be underappreciated.
Lance Hafar. 6’4 Reeds Springs 2021 – Hafar brings unmatched passion for the game as well as a versatile offensive repertoire, able to score around the rim with his length and athletic ability but also step out and hit the 3. He put up over 12 ppg, 9 rpg and over 2 blocks per game during his junior season. Hafar’s combination of intangibles, size and athleticism and versatile offensive game should garner him more attention as he and his Reeds Spring squad look to improve over last season, with Hafar and other talented teammates back in the fold.
Ethan Jones, 5’11 Branson 2022 – Jones is a tremendous athlete who despite averaging over 16 ppg and 4 rpg as a sophomore was only selected to third team all COC after last season. He has a great outside shot but also cuts well and finds the open spots and has the ups, fearlessness and strength to finish against taller players at the rim. Jones has two more years to really make his mark and gain the recognition that he deserves.
Bryce Hambelton, 6’3 Gainesville 2022 – Hambelton shot 70% from the field last season, an incredible mark for a primary offensive player who scored both inside and outside who is also a somewhat undersized post player. He was first team all district and all conference as a sophomore and scored over 15 ppg and grabbed over 8 rpg. Look for Hambelton to continue to improve his all around scoring acumen his last two seasons for Gainesville.