BURNEY’S BYTES: Bo Patton takes over as boys basketball coach at alma mater Merrillville; plus a bevy of recruiting notes from NW Indiana
Merrillville has hired alum Bo Patton as its new boys basketball coach. Patton ran the point for the Pirates in the late 2000s. He takes over an 11-13 squad.
The future is quite bright though for the program due to the presence of sophomore combo guard Keon Thompson, who is one of the state’s most exciting backcourt prospects in the Class of 2021. Thompson tallied 23 points, five assists and five rebounds per game.
Patton replaces T.J. Lux, who left the Pirates’ cage ship after the completion of the 2019 season to accept the job at St. John Bosco in Hammond. From 2014-2018, Patton was Lux’s JV coach and top assistant.
From the Merrillville football team, Pirates junior offensive lineman Martes Lewis is poised for a huge jolt in his recruiting. The GINORMOUS 6-foot-7, 325-pound tackle picked up his first four offers this week, two emanating from the Big Ten: Indiana, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Ball St. all came in with bids. This kid is going to be a “microwave” version of Ben Davis’s Ohio State-bound OL Dawand Jones, who has Lewis’ size, girth, agility and PANCAKE POWER but saw his recruiting lie dormant until after his senior season last fall.
Pirates underclassmen Armani Glass (slot receiver) and Kenny Grant (defensive lineman) are also starting to build a steady buzz regarding their prospect status. Grant, only a freshman, is another 300-pound prodigy in the trenches. Glass is a track stud coming off a sophomore campaign on the gridiron where he snagged 35 balls for close to 1,000 yards — he’s drawn some comparisons to Penn State WR K.J. Hamler.
No rushing to conclusions
Expect a steady stream of recruiters to be visiting with Valparaiso sophomore football stud Cooper Jones over the next two years. Jones (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) is an intriguing pass-rush prospect, an edge rusher with an attitude and a high gridiron IQ. The University of Michigan came in with his first offer this week. There certainly will be many more to follow. Last season, Jones recorded 55 tackles, 10 hurries and eight sacks.
The next big thing
Gary West Side freshman hoopster Jalen Washington is a phenom in the frontcourt, raw power, potential and bubbling playmaking ability. The 6-foot-8 forward is the No. 1 prospect in Hoosierland’s Class of 2022 (No. 14 in ESPN’s national rankings of this year’s fab frosh crop) and off to a fantastic start to the AAU season. Washington contributed 12 points and 8 boards a night in 2019.