Defensive Monsters to Watch Out For
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It is far too common for strong defenders to get overlooked. Plenty of terrific shooters and scorers are average at best defensive players. Some will even put up 15 points a game yet give up that many on 60% shooting…
It is far too common for strong defenders to get overlooked. Plenty of terrific shooters and scorers are average at best defensive players. Some will even put up 15 points a game yet give up that many on 60% shooting Me, I am always looking at who is defending the opposing team’s best ball hander, best scorer, best interior scorer, best rebounder, and so on. Another, who is challenging and blocking shots, where are they coming from, and how they are blocked. Steals are a good statistic to look at. But without being placed in context (e.g. playing strong or poor teams, on-ball or off-ball steals, still on the floor up 30, etc) that is all it is good for…to look at. Shot blocks, same thing. Great to see numbers but really do not tell you anything without knowing the context they were generated in.
The work of strong defenders is best seen by being in the gym and watching film. While I have seen most of the players listed in person a couple I have been limited to film/highlights. A couple are included because the league coaches awarded Defensive Player of the Year honors to the player. Enjoy my list of defensive monsters.
, 5’8″, CG/SF, McPherson, 2024 – I have watched Alvord from the sidelines several times over the years and she is a key cog in the Bullpups lineup. A highly experienced player who can light up from outsidnashe plays with physicality and speed. Defensively she is fierce and, like the rest of the team, uses her body well boxing people out. She will outwork and out-run opponents, making her defense especially shine from mid-third quarter onward. Expect her to continue to play a part in the Bullpups’s defensive and rebounding game paving their way to another 4A state tournament appearance.
, 5’4″, PG, Colby, 2024 – Barton’s hand speed came to my attention at an exposure event when she picked a very strong 2023 grad guard in the back court mid-change of pace crossover. Stunned, all the girl could do was watch Barton score the layup. Barton is quick, smart, and tough but her hand speed is top flight.
, 6’0″, PG, Anderson County, 2024. Long with a solid build and good transition speed Disbrow was a shot blocking machine a season ago, swatting 194 shots at a 8.5 per game pace. Her work saw her rewarded with Pioneer League first team, Varsity Kansas3A second team, and KBCA 3A honorable mention honors. Santa Fe Trail beat the Bulldogs three times in 2023 including in a sub-state final to go to state. Disbrow looks to continuing being a disruptive force in the paint and push her team into state this season.
, Highland Park, 2024 – After joining the newly named Meadowlark League last season Gowan-Britt enjoyed a 5A state tournament appearance and being selected as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. In earning that selection she generated 90 steals at 4.5 per game. She turned many into points off her 3.6 assists or by finishing the steal herself on the way to averaging 9. 1 points. The Scots are the favorite to return to state out the Meadowlark and her ability to generate transition points will be a big reason why.
, 5’8″, CG, Lawrence, 2024 – Hardy has long been one of the team’s toughest defenders. Not just matching up in the full- and half-court but also in terms of general scrappiness. She has good length and anticipation, making her a terrific off-ball defender.
, 5’5″, PG, Wichita Heights, 2026 – Strong, fast and quick what Harris impressed me with in July was her physicality and hand speed. Opposing ball handlers easing up for a moment are just asking for the ball to be picked and scored swiftly.
, 5’8”, CG/SF, Wichita Southeast, 2024 – I had the opportunity to see Jones during the 2023 season and state tournament. It is one thing for players to play multiple offensive positions it is entirely another to be able to defend them. Thant included defending very good, bigger power forwards. She just has the IQ to defend on the wing and inside smartly. Jones also has the physique to do it well. And yes she is a strong rebounder. Whomever she guards rarely gets anything easy and usually they will not get another shot if they miss the first.
, 5’5″, PG, Attica, 2025 – Redgate had a huge sophomore season. Racking up 120 steals at a 5.7 per game pace, she made not just the Heart of the Plains League first team but also the KBCA 1A Div II second team and Varsity Kansas 1A Div II third team. In a loss to state tournament qualifier Central Christian she showed terrific quickness in the half court on both ends and solid transition speed. A lot of polish on her game still needs to be done but she will be on every opponent’s radar this season.
, 5’8″, CG, Rossville, 2024 – Recently committed to play softball at Emporia State, Perine has been a major driver of the Bulldogs’ competitiveness for years. That includes being second in scoring on the team as a freshman. The two-time Mid-East League first team selection racked up 119 steals to average 6 per game in 2023. Smart, tough, quick, athletic with a mature game Perine has to be huge if the team is to get past Silver Lake to reach the 3A state tournament. The Bulldogs have been eliminated in thh sub-state final each of the last two seasons by them.
, 5’6″, SG, Macksville, 2024 – Russell has been a force in the Central Prairie League her entire high school career. Aggressive and quick on both ends of the floor, last season she generated 115 steals at a 5.5 per game clip. She was selected to the the CPL first team and received KBCA and Varsity Kansas 1A Div I honorable mention honors. Many of her 16.4 points per game came off transition baskets she generated with her quick hands and aggressiveness.
, 5’8″, CG, Shawnee Mission South, 2024 = I can count on one hand the number of people of people who paid attention to how well Smith defended Blue Valley’s Oklahoma State commit Jaydn Wooten at the 2023 state tournament. Strong, smart, quick and with good anticipation ability the Missouri Western commit is an elite defender.