Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top 20 Defenders in the State - Boys

It's about time I got this list updated! I strongly believe that too often the media only looks at points scored when determining things like all-state awards, player of the year, etc. I have seen many game stories where all it says is the final scored and how many points each kid had. That is wrong. That is why I like to recognize the players who put the extra effort in on the defensive end.

Most of the players on this list are not the leading or even second leading scorer on their team. But they are all assigned to guarding the opponent's best scorer, and if they can shut him down it is just like scoring 20 points of their own. Without any further ado, here are the top 20 defenders in the state. And yes, I will be doing a similar article for the girls!

The following list and rankings are the opinion of yours truly. I've seen all of these players play this season (most of them 2-3 times or more). This is as accurate a list as you'll find on who the best defenders in the state are. The #1 spot was a tough call. I feel like any of the kids in the top 5 could make a serious case for being #1. Feel free to voice your opinion and debate it.

Also, this list is only about how good the players are on DEFENSE. So offensive production has nothing to do with it. And does it really matter what grade they're all in? No! Naturally, most of the top defenders are going to be seniors and juniors. But a good defender is a good defender, regardless of which class they're in or what division they play on. There are MANY people who have the 'big school bias' and are blinded into thinking that the only good players in the state play in D-I or D-II. Wake up people! Get out of your D-I and D-II bubble sometime and smell the coffee! Yes, of course MORE of the top players are in D-I and D-II. But to say that there is NO good players in D-III and D-IV is completely ignorant. Now onto the list!

1) Jonny Klecan, 5'6" Guard, Junior, Salem HS
Pound for pound, the best defender in the state. Klecan is a real scrapper out there. He plays tough, in-your-face defense. He can not only lock down the player he's covering but he can also pick their pocket. Salem is one of the best defensive teams in NH, and Klecan leads the way. He's usually guarding players who are 4-5 inches taller than him, but he still frustrates the heck out of them.

2) Hunter Viscarello, 5'11" Guard, Junior, Trinity HS
It simply doesn't get much better defensively than Viscarello. He always the opponent's top scorer, and he always holds him to below his season average. Viscarello uses good defensive technique, and does a nice job of pressuring his man, both on-the-ball and away from it.

3) Robert "Bubba" Mahan, 5'11" Guard, Senior, Dover HS
Feisty, tough as nails defender. Also a great story because he's had to wait until his senior year before cracking the Green Wave rotation. He's scoring but more importantly playing tenacious defense. Always guards the opponent's top scorer. Plays with a swagger that you see only in the truly elite defenders.

4) Kyle Remillard, 5'11" Guard, Senior, Bishop Guertin HS
Remillard was already one of the top defenders in the state. But When BG played Memorial a couple weeks back head coach Jim Migneault chose to have Remillard cover Madol, who is not only the best player in the state but he's also 6-7 inches taller than "Remi." Remillard responded by frustrating Madol all game long and limiting him to well under his season average in points. Nobody else this season has been able to guard Madol as well as Remillard did.

5) Justin Slattery, 5'9" Guard, Senior, Spaulding HS
I knew that Slattery was a special defender when I saw him steal the ball NINE times in a preseason scrimmage vs. Somersworth (15-2 in D-III). His eyes focus in on the basketball when he's defending, and then in the blink of an eye he's stolen it away and headed up court to lay it in.

6) Junior Brown, 6'2" Forward, Junior, Manchester Central HS
It has been well documented that Brown has only been playing organized basketball for 2 years. As a result his ball skills are still coming around. His athleticism and defensive ability though have never been in question. I already knew he was a tough defender, but last Friday night against Spaulding he did a sensational job covering Brian Cronin, limiting him to just 5 points (after Cronin scored a combined 50 in his previous 2 games).

7) Anthony Farmer, 6'1" Guard/Forward, Junior, Nashua High North
The versatile Farmer can guard players both in the post as well as on the perimeter. A tough, hard working player who does all of the little things to help the Titans out. His offensive numbers may fluctuate from game to game, but his effort and intensity on the defensive end does not.

8) Troy Mansfield, 6'3" Forward, Senior, Londonderry HS
Very underrated low post defender. Gave Jose Gonzalez from Manchester West fits on the block last Thursday night. Mansfield is built like a defensive lineman (fitting because he is one for the Lancers football team), but he also has the quickness to stay with players on the perimeter. The best low post defender in the state.

9) Seth Cordts, 6'2" Guard, Senior, Souhegan HS
Cordts can guard the opposing 1, 2 or 3. He's a lock down defender who brings it on every play. Very few players in the state can play as far up on their man as Cordts does without getting beat off the dribble. He's also adept at taking charges.

10) Silvere Aluko, 6'10" Center, Junior, Trinity

At 6'10", Aluko is a game-changer on the defensive end due to his size and ability to block shots. With his long wingspan and agility, he is able to either block, tip or alter virtually every shot that an opponent takes near the basket.

11) Nick Martinez, 6'2" Forward, Senior Londonderry HS
Another kid who when you watch play the one word that jumps out at you is toughness. There's nothing flashy or pretty about Martinez' game, he just competes hard and makes life difficult for whoever he's matched up with.

12) Jamie Holder, 6'2" Guard, Senior, Milford HS
Holder is just too quick and too athletic for anybody to be able to go by and score. He does a nice job of pressuring the basketball, and can also come over from the weak side to block shots.

13) Dylan Lafond, 5'7" Guard, Junior, Manchester Central HS
Another player who doesn't get the credit he deserves for his defense. Lafond usually guards the opposing point guard, and he always makes it very difficult for them to get the basketball across half court and into their team's sets. Another player who you have to be very careful with when handling the ball, or else he'll take it right away from you and head the other way with it on the break.

14) Dillon Lanctot, 6'1" Forward, Senior, Somersworth HS
In my opinion, the best defender in Division III. A match-up nightmare for opposing teams. He's 6'1" but plays the game MUCH bigger than that due to his long arms, athleticism and leaping ability. He also has a lot of toughness, so he can match-up with opposing bigs. But with his quickness he can also cover guards out on the perimeter, and when he does so he makes life miserable for them because there's no way they can shoot over his outstretched arms. The one game Lanctot missed this year was vs. Berlin, and Curtis Arsenault went off for 26 points. If there's a player in D-III who ca slow Arsenault down it's Lanctot, so you can bet Arsenault was pleased when he looked across the court and saw Lanctot wasn't suited up.

15) Christian Hawkins, 5'10" Guard, Sophomore, Newmarket HS
Not a lot of people probably know about him because Newmarket plays in Division IV, but Hawkins is an excellent defender in his own right. Only a sophomore, he is a very athletic kid who pressures the basketball full court and also in the half court where he forces his many far beyond the three-point line where they can't do anything with the ball.

16) Kyle Nelson, 6'4" Forward, Senior, Milford HS
Nelson is a lethal shot blocker from the weak side. He is likely the best shot blocker in the state among players shorter than 6'10". You better go to the rim strong against Milford, because otherwise Nelson is swatting it away.

17) Nick Pyzocha, 6'0" Guard, Senior, Bishop Guertin HS
A tenacious, hard nosed defender, Pyzocha does a great job of pressuring the basketball and also playing solid team defense away from it. While Connor Green and Sean McClung do most of the scoring and grab more of the headlines for the Cardinals, anyone who really knows the team will tell you how important Pyzocha and Remillard are to the team with their defensive prowess.

18) Jacob Morgan, 6'0" Guard, Sophomore, Campbell HS
His older brother Josh Morgan might be a more gifted scorer, but there's no one head coach Pat Roye would rather have covering the opponent's best scorer more than Jacob. He flat out competes harder on defense than most kids out there, and he has the quickness and athleticism so stay with the faster players as well.

19) Kyle Welenc, 5'11" Guard, Senior, Mascoma Valley Regional HS
A tough, hard nosed kid who isn't afraid to do the dirty work, whether it's taking charges hustling after loose balls or sprinting back on defense to prevent an easy layup. Welenc is another player who has the versatility to cover both guards and forwards. He has the speed to stay with the guards, and the strength to match up with the bigs.

20) Jared Peabody, 6'4" Forward, Junior, Merrimack HS
Because of his size, Peabody typically guards the opposing bigs. But he's Merrimack's defensive stopper, so he will at times have to guard someone out on the perimeter. And he has the quickness to do that as well.

21) Gregg Tsougranis, 6'0" Guard/Forward, Junior, Portsmouth HS
The unsung hero for a Portsmouth team that has a legit shot at once again going deep into the playoffs. Tsougranis is the quintessential role player, and he is an excellent defender. The Clippers run some complicated defensive schemes, but Tsougranis has the basketball IQ to handle it. He is very good at defending both on the ball and away from it.

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