We’re in for a special 2020-21 high school basketball season thanks to a loaded field of standouts all across the Ozarks.
Some of the nation’s top recruits, noteworthy Division I talent and some of the best up-and-coming athletes in the state play in the gyms scattered all throughout southwest Missouri.
The News-Leader is introducing the “Dominant Dozen” for both boys and girls basketball. The Diamond Dozen will serve in place as our preseason and postseason teams as we honor the best players in the area.
This list will be different by the end of the year as players break out and become among the area’s elite. We will publish watchlists throughout the winter before naming the 2020-21 Diamond Dozen at the end of the season.
Our preseason Dominant Dozen for boys basketball follows:
Aminu Mohammed, Greenwood
When it’s all said and done, Aminu Mohammed will go down as one of the area’s all-time great basketball players — and he’s earned that distinction already.
The five-star phenom enters his third and final year in Springfield and he will have the choice between a plethora of college programs over the winter.
At Greenwood, Mohammed has led the program to a state title in 2019 and its first Blue and Gold Tournament title later in the year.
ESPN ranks Mohammed as the No. 11 senior in the country is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 34.8 points and 15.7 boards per game.
Mohammed has been a special athlete in the Springfield area and time is running out for Ozarks basketball fans to see one of the all-time greats in area gyms.
Anton Brookshire, Kickapoo
Also up there with the area’s all-time greats will be Kickapoo senior Anton Brookshire.
The Mizzou commit is coming off a season in which he led the Chiefs to a state semifinal. They weren’t able to advance any further because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the final games of the tournament.
Nonetheless, Brookshire was the heart and soul of the team. He’s continued to make big jumps as an all-around player since starting his senior year.
During his junior year, ESPN’s No. 90 senior in the country averaged 20.5 points and four rebounds per game while dishing 3.5 assists. On the biggest stage, Brookshire went 7-of-12 from behind the arc for 33 points at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in a game against national powerhouse Oak Hill.
Brookshire has an opportunity to continue to do great things this season as he leads a very talented Kickapoo roster.
Trevon Brazile, Kickapoo
In a way, Trevon Brazile has come out of nowhere. Make no mistake about it, he’s one of the great players in all of the Ozarks.
Brazile, who joined Kickapoo after leaving Parkview over the summer, skyrocketed over the summer as an elite prospect in the area. He received interest from multiple Power 5 programs thanks to his play in AAU ball and great athleticism to go along with a lengthy 6-foot-8 frame.
The senior chose to join Brookshire and commit to Mizzou. He had interest from Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia and Wichita State before picking the Tigers.
As a Viking, Brazile averaged 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He should fit in well next to a few of his AAU teammates who also play for the Chiefs.
Isaac Haney, Kickapoo
If the addition of Brazile wasn’t enough to hype up Kickapoo, the addition of Isaac Haney should do the trick.
Former Dora star Isaac Haney moved to Springfield and will play with Brookshire and Brazile at Kickapoo. The Missouri State commit is fresh off leading Dora to a state championship after receiving his second Class 1 Player of the Year award in as many years.
Haney averaged 31 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a junior and knocked down 114 3-pointers over the course of the season.
Haney next to Brookshire in the backcourt? That’s going to be fun to watch.
Victory Naboya, Greenwood
After MSHSAA declined to allow Victory Naboya to be eligible a season ago, one of the area’s top recruits will be allowed to suit up for Greenwood this season.
Naboya is an athletic 6-foot-9 power forward from Cameroon who recently landed an offer from Southern Methodist. He also holds offers from Sacred Heart, Towson and Stony Brook.
The only action he saw in 2019-20 came at the Tournament of Champions where he participated in the slam dunk contest.
Naboya should have familiarity with the Greenwood program after sitting out with it last season. He should fit in rather quickly.
Ryce Piper, Hartville
After leading Hartville to a state title, Ryce Piper will return with the hopes of repeating.
Piper is a 6-foot-3 guard who averaged 17.5 points, six rebounds and 1.7 steals per game a year ago. He was a Class 2 All-State performer and he dropped 18 points in a 69-40 championship win over Skyline.
The Eagles have the majority of their roster coming back. With Piper there, they should have a chance at repeating.
Kanon Gipson, Logan-Rogersville
From a 20-win team a season ago, the Wildcats will return one of their top performers.
Kanon Gipson — a 6-foot-3 guard — is set to take the floor for his senior year. He’s started since his sophomore year and has hit a bit of a growth spurt from starting out as a small 5-foot-8 guard on the team.
Gipson has heard from Drury, Southwest Baptist and Lipscomb. He averaged 9.4 points and 4.6 assists per game a season ago.
Kyle Pock, Bolivar
Perhaps the fastest rising player in southwest Missouri is a sophomore playing in Bolivar.
Kyle Pock is a 6-foot-7 forward who is what the kids like to call a “bucket.” He averaged 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds as a freshman and is currently the No. 2 player in Missouri’s 2023 class, according to Prep Hoops.
He already owns an offer from Missouri State and more should be on the way.
Drew McMillin, Republic
One of the top pure shooters in the Ozarks will play his senior year at Republic this season.
Drew McMillin, a 5-foot-11 guard, is coming off averaging 19 points per game. He made 85 triples a year ago and was 47 percent from beyond the arc.
RepMo head coach Tim Brown said he believes McMillin has been one of the best guards in the area since he was a sophomore. McMillin is already the program’s all-time 3-point leader and he’s being recruited by a variety of NAIA and Division II programs.
Cameron Liggins, Kickapoo
Kickapoo had a backcourt worthy of the state semifinals without its newcomers last season. Cameron Liggins, along with Brookshire, was a big reason why.
Liggins has continued to rise as one of the area’s better players. His improvement has been evident since his step-father, Dana Ford, took over as the Missouri State head coach his sophomore year.
Last season, Liggins averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He recently reclassified to the Class of 2022 and will be eligible to play for a prep school next year. He was also recently offered by Western Illinois.
Kickapoo is loaded.
Carter Harrell, Glendale
In what has been a long line of great scorers to come through Glendale, it appears Carter Harrell is the next.
The junior guard is coming off a season in which he averaged 18 points and 4.5 rebounds per game en route to All-Ozark Conference honors.
For a team that finished 16-11 a year ago and might have overachieved a little, according to head coach Brian McTague, the return of one of the top scorers in the area will be welcomed for the next two seasons.
Kael Combs, Nixa
Nixa’s great backcourt will feature one of the fastest rising players in the Ozarks.
Kael Combs, a sophomore guard who can play small forward at 6-foot-3, is coming off a season in which he averaged 7.7 points and 1.1 steals per game.
Combs is already attracting Division I interest — including from Missouri State. Combs is a member of the highly-regarded MOKAN Elite AAU program.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at email@example.com or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He’s also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.