Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
The area’s basketball future is in good hands.
While many of today’s best players are veterans, many others are just beginning their careers on the hardwood.
Some are known names and some are still molding a name for themselves. But each has a different skill set that’s simply special.
We’ve compiled 10 of those names, in no certain order, on the list below that we believe are flying under radars.
Payton Johnson, Peebles
The rich get richer, or something like that. For the past four seasons, Jacey Justice has had the reins of Peebles’ offense. Now, she gets to pass them to Johnson, a freshman, while acting as her mentor. Johnson has been entirely impressive over her first three games, averaging 17 points, six rebounds and 2.3 assists each night. If that continues, Peebles will be tough to beat.
Mattie Walburn, Jackson
For quite some time now, Jackson’s girls program has been looking forward to this year’s freshman class. Walburn is one of the reasons why. She’s developing into one of the best pure scorers in the area while her team continues to add pieces around her. When you watch her play, it’s hard to believe she’s just a freshman. She’s already a leader amongst her teammates.
Emma Garrison, Adena
Smooth as silk. That perfectly describes Garrison’s jumper. The freshman has made an early splash in Frankfort, helping the Warriors to a 8-1 start. She’s a great shooter, makes smart decisions, and can drive to the bucket. Garrison’s 10-game start to her career includes 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Big things are coming in her future.
Macy Etienne, Lynchburg-Clay
With the ability to carry her team, Etienne has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the start of this season. She can hit the outside shot, has a great mid-range jumper and knocks down her foul shots when she gets the chance to do so. Look for her to develop into one of the Mustangs’ best scorers. She’s averaging 5.5 points, four rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals each night.
Skylar Zimmerman, South Webster
You’ll be reading Zimmerman’s name a lot in the coming years. The freshman has proven to be a commodity for South Webster’s offense and a bonafide scoring option. When defenses focus on Bri Claxon, Zimmerman has routinely picked up the slack. She’s averaging 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per night alongside 1.3 steals on the defensive end.
Ella Kirby, Notre Dame
Kirby was battling an injury early in the year, but she’s worked to get back to the point where she’s healthy. Since, the Titans have asked her to produce important minutes off the bench. She’s answered the call. The freshman is putting up five points, two rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Her best outing was in a win over Green, logging 10 points. Many more to come.
Anna Knapp, Green
With a basketball background that would put others to shame, Knapp has quickly become a go-to player for the Bobcats. She’s a force inside the paint, can sit and play defense, and has the skill to score around the rim. As Green continues to grow as a team, Knapp will be central to their quest for success. At 5-foot-10, she’s one of the area’s most promising sophomores.
Emma Sayre, West
There’s not many freshman point guards out there like Sayre. She’s been asked to run an offense that can hit on all cylinders, and she’s been good at it so far. She limits turnovers, looks to pass first and takes high-quality shots. West is 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the SOC. Make no mistake, Sayre is a huge reason why the Senators are off to their best start in some time.
Gabby Pernell, Southeastern
If you like watching players who like playing defense, make sure and catch Pernell in action. The freshman is relentless on the defensive end and has made a name for herself with her never-quit style of play. She’s shown the ability to score and rebound as well. Pernell’s averaging 5.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals through seven games. Look for those numbers to rise.
Amelia Uhrig, Unioto
Uhrig’s future is extremely promising. Through eight games, the freshman is averaging 5.6 points, 4.8 rebounds per game, 2.3 boards on the offensive end. She’s provided the Shermans with extra opportunities to score and, over the past three games, has been extremely efficient — she’s 9-of-16 from the field during that stretch. She’s one of the SVC’s best youngsters.