Before we close the book on the 2018-19 Washington high school boys basketball season, we’re taking a position by position look at the underclassmen that emerged as stars.
There are dozens of good post players in Washington high school boys basketball. From top national prospect Paolo Banchero to rising star Jackson Grant, here are 12 post players to keep an eye on. All of the names on this list are freshmen, sophomores or juniors, meaning all of these players are among the ones we’ll be watching entering the 2019-20 season.
Paolo Banchero, O’Dea (6-9 sophomore)
One of the top sophomores in the country regardless of position, Banchero recovered from injuries this past season to help lead O’Dea to a 3A state title. Skilled with a very high IQ, he also has great athleticism and hands. Many of the top programs in the country are recruiting him hard and will be watching closely as he plays for Seattle Rotary in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
Kaden Perry, Battle Ground (6-9 sophomore)
The athleticism of Perry is what catches your eye initially but the skill is really starting to emerge. His work with Battle Ground coach Manny Melo and the attention to detail is showing. He has the Tigers poised to become a true power in the 4A Greater St. Helens League.
Tari Eason, Federal Way (6-8 junior)
Eason did so much of the dirty work this past season for Federal Way. A lot of this was because he played alongside McDonald’s All-American Jaden McDaniels, but their success in making the 4A state semifinals had a lot to do with Eason’s toughness and motor. He should really shine next season.
Kendall Munson, Puyallup (6-8 junior)
The surprise of maybe the entire season in Washington high school hoops was the emergence of Munson at Puyallup. He moved up from California and made his mark, leading the Vikings to a sixth-place finish at the 4A state tournament. He should be a highly sought after recruit after the spring and summer evaluation periods.
Tyson Degenhart, Mt. Spokane (6-7 sophomore)
Degenhart opened quite a few eyes across the state after an impressive 3A state tournament run for Mt. Spokane. What he might lack in athleticism he makes up for with his length and versatility. Degenhart can score inside when guarded by a smaller player and when he has a big he can step out and hit the three or put the ball on the deck.
Jackson Grant, Olympia (6-9 sophomore)
Grant might be the most skilled player in the state regardless of position. With his soft hands, versatile inside-outside game and high IQ, he reminds many coaches of former Eastlake High School, Stanford and NBA player Curtis Borchardt.
Kyle Karstetter, Moses Lake (6-7 junior)
An inside-outside threat at Moses Lake, Karstetter has good length and is very skilled. Several coaches see him as a hidden gem in the state.
Tristan Smith, Southridge (6-6 junior)
Some coaches believe Smith is a wing and others a post. But one thing is clear: he can flat out play. Smith is very athletic and his skills are coming around. He should turn some heads this summer playing for a fundamentally sound Eastern Washington Elite club.
JT Tuimolau, Eastside Catholic (6-5 sophomore)
Tuimolau, a big-time football prospect, carves out quite a bit of space on the hardwood as well. The young core at Eastside Catholic performed very well this past season and Tuimolau’s presence on the interior was a big reason why.
Mitchell Saxen, Ingraham (6-10 junior)
Saxen led Ingraham to the state tournament for the first time since 1975. In a state tourney win over Prairie he showed off his game-changing length, altering and blocking shot after shot. He finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks and helped hold Prairie to 27.5% shooting from the field. Saxen already has offers from Washington, Montana, Pepperdine, Grand Canyon, Seattle and Portland.
Tyler Linhardt, King’s (6-6 freshman)
Linhardt made an impression at the 1A state tournament, helping lead King’s to a third-place finish by averaging 17.8 points over four games. His performance earned him first team all-tourney honors. A skilled big man who can step out and shoot it, Linhardt will play a central role for the Knights next season.
Ethan Jackson, Marysville-Pilchuck (6-6 junior)
Jackson is a high-level athlete with great hands and instincts. He did all the little things for the Tomahawks this past season, and with RaeQuan Battle moving on to Washington, Jackson will be asked to carry a heavy load in 2019-2020.