The Coulee Region is in the midst of one of the biggest boys basketball talent booms it’s ever had.
Many factors contribute to it — including a slew of good coaches and the explosion of year-round basketball options — and the product on hardwood floors around the area over the past several years has never been better. There have been and continue to be Division I college coaches popping in and out of the area.
With a handful of games under their belts, boys basketball teams in the Coulee Region have already shown growth and new dynamics. This is a Tribune primer for some of the top players in particular elements of the game for you to keep an eye on when watching games this winter.
We’ll do the same for girls next week.
Johnny Davis | 6-foot-4 Guard, Jr., Central
No brainer, right? There’s a reason that Davis has a handful of Division I scholarship offers in hand from which to choose. Programs vying for his college commitment include Wisconsin, UNLV, Northern Iowa, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay.
Actually, there are multiple reasons. First and foremost, he’s a scorer. His ability to get to the hoop and a nice midrange jump shot have been the base of his game in his first two varsity seasons — seasons that included 50 wins, five losses and a Division 2 championship for the Red Raiders. He averaged 22.8 points last season, and he’s worked on adding a more consistent 3-pointer to his arsenal, something he showed it in the summer months and early this season.
Offense alone doesn’t get you in this slot, though.
Davis is an aggressive defender, as well. His length and ability to jump passing lanes and cause turnovers help Central’s defense become elite in the half-court. He can switch onto smaller guards without giving up drives and can contest shots or force steals when guarding bigger forwards.
Tyrell Stuttley | 6-foot-4 forward, jr., Onalaska
Stuttley took a leap as an overall player last season, when the ball-of-energy freshman became stronger, and more polished as a sophomore.
That’s continuing this season, especially on the defensive end. He uses his quickness to stay between opponents and the basket, and has long arms that help contest shots without jumping. Stuttley — whose sisters Terra and Tayla also had very good careers for the Hilltoppers — also uses active hands to make opposing big men uncomfortable when handling the ball against him.
What puts Stuttley a cut above most forwards his size is his ability to guard multiple positions. He can switch on screens against guards and hold his own on the perimeter.
Noah Parcher | 6-foot guard, sr., Central
With the talent Central has had on the wings lately, one could mistakenly think the role of the Red Raiders point guard was easy. It’s not, even if Parcher has made it look that way at times.
Parcher, one of the only players on Central’s roster to play a significant role in each of their state tournament runs over the past three seasons, has been a great facilitator while expanding his role as a scorer over the years. His ability to hit his teammates in stride on the way to the basket or at the correct angle that they can get right into their shot makes Central’s offense as efficient as it is.
He’s also been deadly at starting Central’s fast break.
Sam Kick 6-foot guard, so., Onalaska
There wasn’t a better spot-up shooter in the area last season, and Kick’s looking to improve upon that this season.
Onalaska doesn’t have do-it-all guard Noah Skifton this season, so Kick will get more chances to handle the ball and create off the dribble, but he’ll still do his part from the 3-point line. He made 42 3s last season on 75 tries (56 percent). He represented the Hilltoppers last year at the state tournament’s 3-point contest, as well.
A quick release and strong shooting form make Kick’s shooting a dangerous and consistent weapon, stretching the defense and creating lanes for teammates.
Grant Manke 6-foot-4 forward, jr., Bangor
The Cardinals might not have the star-studded roster that won a Division 5 state championship last season, but they have their anchor down low in Manke, who is ready to take on an even bigger role.
Manke, who was a standout offensive and defensive lineman on the Bangor football team, knows how to use his height and physical strength to get position on the block.
He’s seemingly always in the right spot, and he high points the ball well. He’s also quick to go back up with offensive rebounds, which results in easy layups or free-throw chances.
He pulled down 25 rebounds in two state games last season, and started this year with even more impressive numbers.