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By Kyle Sutherland | Photo by Jaison Sterling

With the high school basketball season in full swing, SBLive is looking at the best boys players in Arkansas class by class. Today, we feature the top sophomores.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of great basketball players in the state. Use the comments section to discuss other standout sophomores.

Soon, you will have a chance to vote on who you think is the top sophomore boys basketball player in the state.

Landren Blocker | Little Rock Christian | 6-4 small forward

Blocker is a very athletic forward that can also play guard at a high level. The Warriors have struggled in conference play, but he has shined averaging 10.9 points and six rebounds per game along with 1.6 steals. 

“His outside shot will continue to improve with him taking game-type situational shots in practice,” LRCA Coach Clarence Finley said. “He will develop as one of our better defenders if we get him defending instead of stealing, but he is athletic enough to guard some of the better players in our league.”

Annor Boateng | Central | 6-5 shooting guard

Boateng can play any position on the floor at a high level and can defend them just as well. He came onto the scene last season earning his first offer from Arkansas-Pine Bluff followed by Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Auburn. He is averaging just shy of a double-double with 17 points and 8.5 rebounds. 

“No question Annor is the No 1 sophomore in the state, it is not even close,” Central Coach Brian Ross said. “He’s carrying a team as the best player on both ends of the floor and has played major minutes for a state finals team last season as a freshman.”

Drew Burton | Drew Central | 6-1 shooting guard

Burton recently led the Pirates to a 68-47 victory over Dumas, who was ranked in the Top 20 of our polls, scoring 21 points and hit five three-pointers. Burton is averaging 12.5 points per game connecting on 41% of his shots from three-point range. He also takes care of business in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA. 

“Drew is a very hard worker,” Pirates Coach CJ Watson said. “He gets to the gym at 6:30 in the morning on gamedays to shoot. He is constantly getting better and working on every aspect of his game.”

Courtney Crutchfield | Pine Bluff | 6-3 shooting guard

Crutchfield excels at both football and basketball, but things have gone very well on the court for him too thus far averaging 23.4 points per game and a key reason the Zebras have gelled in conference play. 

“This kid simply knows how to get buckets,” Zebras Coach Billy Dixon said. “Deceptive quickness, wicked first-step, and scores the ball on all three levels.”

Dee Culberson | Little Rock Central | 6-0 combo guard

Culberson utilizes his explosive quickness to play tough defense leading the team in deflections and steals. He is also aggressive on the boards as the Tigers’ leading rebounder offensively. In 21 minutes per game this season he averages eight points, four rebounds, two steals, and three deflections.

“Dee has incredible speed, instincts, and aggressiveness,” Tigers Coach Brian Ross said. “He is a relentless defender on the ball and creates offense from his defense.”

Tristan Cunningham | Riverview | 6-1 combo guard

Cunningham has contributed 11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists for the Raiders this year, and Coach Kirkland Pettis alluded to him as a tone setter for the team. “Typically when he has an off night, it is hard for us to win and he has carried us in some games this year,” Pettis said.

Tristan has played a huge role as a sophomore,” Pettis also mentioned. “He has a ‘leader’ mentality, a very positive attitude, and he has gotten better as the season has gone along.”

Owen Dehrmann | Bentonville | 6-3 small forward

Dehrmann began to make a name for himself in a season-opening victory over Marion scoring 25 points and then came up big in December’s Blue Springs Tournament knocking down a buzzer-beating 3 to beat Ozark (Mo.) in overtime. He has been averaging 7.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

"A great worker and a very intelligent player,” Tigers Coach Dick Rippee said. “A great competitor who is also a leader for our program and a great scorer who plays within our system very well."

James Deloach | Sylvan Hills | 6-5 small forward

His big dunks have been making rounds on social media, but Deloach offers much more than highlights. He is already on the verge of averaging a double-double each time he takes the floor putting up ten points and nine rebounds adding two blocks per game on defense. He does have room to improve at the free throw line, but that will come as he continues to develop.

“James has really helped our team in rebounding and our interior defense,” Bears Coach Kevin Davis said. “He is improving every day in his overall game and has done a great job competing against the upperclassmen across the state.”

Jaylon Ento | Mills | 6-2 shooting guard 

Ento has battled injuries this season and returned to the court at the beginning of conference play. He has been a tireless worker on both ends of the court averaging 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals a game while shooting 60% from the field.

“Jaylon plays hard on both ends of the court,” Comets assistant coach David White said. “He’s still learning our system and this time next year he will be one of the best in the state hands down.”

Cameron Frazier | Russellville | 6-4 small forward

Frazier is a relentless rebounder as proven after grabbing 11 against Fayetteville early in the year followed 10 against conference foe Siloam Springs, just to name a few. He has really come into his own defensively but has honed his craft on the offensive end as well. He averages nine rebounds a game to go with two steals, two blocks, and eight points each time out.

“Cam is really growing as a player in all aspects of the game,” Cyclones Coach Kyle Pennington said. “He is an outstanding defender.”

Drake Fowler | Bryant | 6-2 combo guard

Fowler contributed in the secondary for the Hornets’ football team that won its fourth state title in a row and is now playing a key role for one of the sleeper basketball teams in Class 6A. He has averaged 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. 

“Drake does everything for us and affects winning in so many ways” Hornets Coach Mike Abrahamson said. “He scores, rebounds, defends. He leads our team in deflections, which we use to measure effort and activity level. The sky's the limit for this young man.”

Ornette Gaines | Fayetteville | 6-4 shooting guard

The Purple Dogs came into the season very young with seven sophomores on the roster. One of them being Gaines who has stepped up as a great compliment to senior leader Landon Glasper producing 16 points per game and 7 rebounds, and shoots 73% from 2-point range in conference play.

“We felt like he would be a matchup problem because he’s able to stretch the floor” head FHS Coach Brad Stamps said. “We try to put him in situations where he can initiate offense. He has the goods when it comes to that.”

Caden Griffin | Melbourne | 6-2 shooting guard

Described as a “bucket getter” by Melbourne Coach Scott Bowlin, Griffin has paced the Bearkatz with 18 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He was named the Player of the Month by Farm Bureau for the month of December.

“Caden has steadily improved his overall game and is becoming a leader on the floor,” Bowlin said. “He makes everyone better. I am very pleased with his ability to come into a new situation and adapt his game.”

Justin May | eSTEM | 5-11 combo guard

May has had multiple double-digit performances this season including huge outings in a 32-point outburst against Hector and recently put up 25 in a loss to Stuttgart. One key opportunity mentioned by the coaching staff that May continues to work on is his shoot particularly when the pressure is on.

“He is starting to shoot and score the ball better,” assistant coach Dontell Jefferson said. “I think he is getting a better understanding of how to work harder to get his shot off under pressure.”

Caden Miller | Bentonville | 6-9 power forward

Miller is emerging as one of the best in the 2024 class averaging 11 points and 12 rebounds per game. Through 20 games, he blocked 67 shots and has barely even scratched the surface. Miller is also a great passer which is a major bonus for a big.

"Caden is one of the most improved players in the state of Arkansas,” Tigers Coach Dick Rippee said. “His athleticism is underrated, and he has a great motor for rebounding on both ends."

JaCorey Mosley | Morrilton | 6-2 small forward

Mosley has been an effective young forward as a key compliment to Razorback signee and senior leader Joseph Pinion putting up 15 points and 7 rebounds per game. With multiple 20-plus point games under his belt already, Mosley will continue to keep developing.

“Jacorey has been huge for us as a sophomore,” Morrilton Coach Keith Zackery said. “We've asked so much from him in such a short period of time, and he has accepted the challenge. We are excited about his progression and having a great spring and summer to continue developing his game. 

Kaden Ponder | Bergman | 6-4 small forward

Already standing at 6-4, Ponder has plenty of time to continue to grow in terms of his height as well as his game. He has averaged double-digit points with 10.5 per game along with 6 rebounds.

“Kaden has the length to score inside and out,” Bergman Coach Bo Martin said. “He has a very high ceiling and is a huge part of our success this year.”

Cooper Rabjohn | Rector | 5-11 shooting guard

Rabjohn has been a force for the Cougars this season hitting 50% from the field, and 40% from 3-point range. He has already had multiple games where he eclipsed 30 points, including a season-high 46 against rival Marmaduke and 42 recently against 41 versus Earle. He has been averaging around 20 points and 3.9 assists per game.

“Cooper is an incredible scorer with unlimited range,” Rector Coach Matt Mills said. “He’s learning how to affect the game on the defensive end and make his teammates around him better on the offensive end.”

Tommy Reddick | Dumas | 6-2 combo guard

Reddick played one game for the Bobcats’ varsity squad as a freshman after an injury ended his season but has come back very strong. He has a 4.05 GPA and ranks first in his class academically. He has grown into one of the state’s most successful sophomores averaging 14.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 2.4 assists per game. 

“Tommy is extremely athletic and has good size at 6’2,” Dumas Coach Larry Harris said. “He is a three-level scorer who plays above the rim, has a mid-range jumper, and can shoot the three from just about anywhere. He defends at a high level with his size on guards and he’s athletic enough to erase attempts at the rim.”

Ty Robinson | Lake Hamilton | 6-2 shooting guard

Robinson has been crucial to Lake Hamilton’s success since the start of the season with an alley-oop in the opening game against Mena, 27 points against Texas High, 26 points helping the Wolves win the Big Red Invitational, and an All-Tournament performance in the Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament. He is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds per game.

“Ty is a tireless worker and he spends hours in the gym and weight room daily,” Wolves Coach Scotty Pennington said. “He has a high basketball IQ and is much more athletic than he gets credit for. He can play every spot on the court 1-5.”

Mason Simpson | Fayetteville | 6-4 shooting guard

Simpson has used this season to develop his all-around game and has continued to show his ability as a shooter hitting 60% off his shots from 2-point range while averaging 8.8 points per game. 

“Mason has always been known as a sniper, spends hours in the gym on his craft. He gets up at 6 am three or four days a week and always stays after practice,” FHS Coach Brad Stamps said. “ His game is evolved from just being a shooter which is exactly what we needed.”

Deshun Spence | Vilonia | 6-4 small forward

Vilonia got off to a 5-7 start before conference play began but has since been one of the more consistent teams in the 5A-West and Spence’s contributions are a big reason. He has averaged 28 minutes per game with 10.9 points shooting 53.8% from the field. 

“From last year, Dashun has become more comfortable with playing at the varsity level,” Eagles Coach Troy Campbell said. “With a year under his belt, he has become more aggressive offensively and defensively. He continues to show a deeper understanding of the game.”

Layne Taylor | Farmington | 6-0 point guard

Taylor is without question one of the top three or four players in the Arkansas for the 2024 class. He has been great averaging 26 points per game shooting 52% from the field, including a school-record 61 points against Huntsville in December. And that is just one big accomplishment of note.

“Layne is an unselfish teammate and has an unbelievable basketball IQ,” head coach and father Jonny Taylor said. “He leads our team in points, assists and steals.”

Dallas Thomas | Little Rock Parkview | 6-8 small forward

Thomas has already gained national attention being ranked as high as the 23rd overall prospect in the country by ESPN for 2024 and currently has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Houston, Illinois, Texas A&M among others with plenty more to come. 

“Dallas has gotten better, but he just needs to continue to get stronger and meaner,” head coach Scotty Thurman said. “He’s definitely gotten meaner as one of our team leaders in blocked shots. From a talent standpoint, it is off the charts when you look at someone who is 6-8 that can handle the basketball, who can play multiple positions who shoots it well. I think the sky's the limit for him.” 

Zane Widener | Clinton | 6-2 shooting guard

Widener has already eclipsed multiple double-doubles this season, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who spends more time in the gym at perfecting his craft. He has averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals per game this year.

“Zane is a remarkable athlete and basketball player,” Clinton Coach Cole Gardner said. “He is constantly working on his game and continues to get better. Also one of the hardest working players, a true competitor and knows how to do the things you can’t coach.”