Freshman Focus: Bigs
In this article:
Prep Hoops will wait until fall to rank the 2026 class. By that time, we’ll have given the class a full spring and summer on the club circuit following its freshman season. We’ve already seen enough quality in the class…
Prep Hoops will wait until fall to rank the 2026 class. By that time, we’ll have given the class a full spring and summer on the club circuit following its freshman season. We’ve already seen enough quality in the class that we’re excited to create a list, but we’ll patiently wait.
In the meantime, here’s a look at some bigs from the 2026 class who are making an impression in their ninth grade season:
Cameron Love, 6-foot-4 forward, 2026, Olathe North:
Olathe North used a young, electric and undersized lineup to race to the state tournament a year ago. They’re up to the same tricks again this year. But the one thing they really needed was a big man to defend opposing bigs and crash the glass. Enter Love, a long freshman with the size and athleticism to play inside and the footspeed to keep up with the Eagles’ up-tempo guards. He’s physically advanced and understands his role. He makes creative finishes around the glass and plays tough against bigger, older opponents. Watch for Olathe North to make noise in the playoffs, with this guy playing a big role.
, 6-foot-2 forward, 2026, Hayden:
McGibboney is a Swiss Army knife for Hayden. He gets used in a variety of ways because he is advanced in both his physique and understanding of the game. He does a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Because of his skill set, McGibboney may wind up in the ‘guard’ category. But for now, he fits this discussion because of his versatile role. He can bang against bigger players, guard nearly every spot on the floor, and face the basket.
Keimani Paul, 6-foot-4 forward, 2026, Topeka West:
Topeka West returned a lot of talent, but had one gaping hole. They had to figure out how to replace high scoring shooting guard Elijah Brooks. They shuffled the lineup, got creative and are back in the top 5A teams in the state. Taking some of the minutes is the long, lanky freshman leaper, who looks to be an up-and-coming rim protector and rebounder. He is growing into the role. He doesn’t always score much. But he recently went for 15 against Basehor-Linwood and 16 against Leavenworth, shooting better than 50% in those games.
Ian Premer, 6-foot-4 forward, 2026, Great Bend:
Great Bend returned a lot of experienced and talented players. But that didn’t keep Premer from stepping in and making an impact immediately. Right off the bat he started turning in some impressive scoring outings. He earned all-tournament at some early-season events and has become one of Great Bend’s go-to guys. He recently went for 25 points against rival Hays. The Panthers have played a rough schedule, but they have a lot of players. Watch for them to make some noise yet this season.
Ethan Taylor, 6-foot-9 center, 2026, Shawnee Mission Northwest:
No list of freshman bigs would be complete without including Taylor. He’s a part of a crop of young talent at Shawnee Mission Northwest that tends to overshadow him. But Taylor, who is one of the tallest players in the state, has an impressively smooth, coordinated quality that makes him and intriguing project. The freshman is focused on rebounding and protecting the rim, and is doing a good job so far. He is averaging 3 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks while not playing full games.