Evan Reeves, a 6-foot-8 junior at Cape Elizabeth High, is as proud of his outside shooting as he is about playing in the low post. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — At 6-foot-8, Evan Reeves stands tall on a basketball court.

But, “I don’t feel as big as I used to,” says the Cape Elizabeth junior.

Reeves has noticed the same thing Maine high school basketball fans will this season.

There are a lot of big guys.

“I feel like definitely in the last year or so, it’s been facing up with guys my height or even taller,” Reeves said. “I had usually been the tallest guy on the floor, and I’m not always that anymore.

“It was a challenge at first, but it’s made it more fun to play. … You really have to work for your points.”


Reeves is a good example of how these tall players also possess all-around games. Asked what he does best, he first mentions his outside shooting. The days of tall kids tethered to the basket by an imaginary 8-foot leash are gone. They are making 3-pointers and posting up, or taking a defender off the dribble, or working an off-shoulder hook shot.

“One thing different from when I first started coaching, a lot of these big guys can shoot the 3 and put the ball on the floor, and that’s a huge difference from 30 years ago,” said Scarborough Coach Phil Conley, who has 6-6 Jack Simonton on his squad. “Now you see a lot of these 6-6, 6-7 and up guys on the perimeter and very athletic.”

The goal is to be a “stretch” player, meaning someone who stretches defenders by forcing them to respect their scoring ability near the rim and beyond the 3-point line.

Cape Elizabeth junior Evan Reeves drives for a layup during an intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday. He is one of several Maine high school basketball players this season who stand at least 6-8. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Reeves said that when he was younger, he strongly advocated for himself, to make sure a youth coach didn’t force him to post up. Reeves said he did that because, at the time, he didn’t know how much bigger he might get.

“I just didn’t really want to be stuck as a 6-2 big man in high school, which is kind of a trend for Maine up until now,” Reeves said.

Now that he is 6-8, he’s working more on his post game. He says he’s established a pretty good hook shot, and this year wants to improve his passing from the low block.


Elliot Bouchard, a 6-8 junior at Bonny Eagle, is the son of former UMaine standout Francois Bouchard. Steve Craig photo

Bonny Eagle junior Elliot Bouchard is 6-8 and getting closer to 6-9. He’s also packed on more than 20 pounds of muscle since he started for the Scots as a 6-7 freshman. Bouchard did not play as a sophomore.

The son of former Old Orchard Beach High and University of Maine standout Francois Bouchard, Elliot Bouchard said he has always enjoyed playing close to the basket. But he can shoot it, as evidenced by a 26-point effort in an overtime scrimmage loss at Edward Little. In that game, Bouchard hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

“I like to be big on the block, kind of like a traditional big man. Take up space, getting rebounds, getting blocks, contest all layups and not letting anybody drive in,” Bouchard said, spreading his arms wide to help demonstrate. “But if the game comes down to it, I can go out on the perimeter and shoot, and I can pick-and-roll and do all that.”

Reeves and Bouchard are just two of many examples of tall young players who are expected to have a large impact this season.

“I have noticed the league has gone from guard play to bigs,” said Bonny Eagle Coach John Trull, who took the Scots to the 2019 Class AA state final behind the play of guards Zach Maturo and Jacob Humphrey. “We will see how that will shape up.”

In the AA ranks, the conversation starts with JP Estrella, a South Portland junior who is pushing 6-11.


“I’m almost 6-11. When I wear the big bubble shoes, I am,” Estrella said.

JP Estrella, a 6-10 junior at South Portland, has received scholarship offers from major college programs. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Estrella burst on the national recruiting scene this summer when he scored an invite to the Syracuse University Elite Camp and left the one-day event with a scholarship offer from legendary Coach Jim Boeheim.

Estrella has an inside-out game and is a forceful finisher in transition or out of the half court. He will shoot 3-pointers, but he’s even more proud of how well he’s refined a classic soft hook shot over either shoulder.

Edward Little will rely heavily on burly 6-6 John Shea, who was a standout on the 2020 state championship team. Bangor has 6-7 sophomore Landon Clark. At Oxford Hills, Colby Dillingham checks in at 6-10. Deering is happy to have 6-8 Alex Willings.

In Class A, the big-man discussion starts with freshman phenom Cooper Flagg at Nokomis, who is 6-7 and already a hot commodity in recruiting circles because of his all-around skills. Gardiner will be paced by 6-8 junior Kalvin Catchings, who was the Tigers’ best player as a freshman.

Falmouth has 6-6 sophomore Chris Simonds. Falmouth Coach Dave Halligan said Simonds has been told he might still grow to 6-10.


“You always need a big person to do the work in the trenches. The guards can’t shoot the ball and score the ball unless they can get the ball,” said Falmouth Coach Dave Halligan. “And also, you need a rim protector.”

At Fryeburg Academy, powerful 6-9 junior William Hallam will provide the down-and-dirty big-man presence.

“Having Will inside is huge for us. It doesn’t change the way we play, but it creates a very simple option for us that we can look to if things get out of sync,” said Daniel Thomas, Fryeburg’s first-year coach. “The biggest advantage is what it does to opposing defenses. They get so focused on stopping Will that they forget about the other four guys on the floor, and it opens things up for everyone else.”

With big size often comes big expectations. That can be difficult when a young player is still learning how to make their large frame. But these “bigs” on the court this season seem to possess the talent and athletic ability to maximize their gifts.

“The expectations are normally, well, you’re this tall, so you should be good,” Bouchard said. “You just have to shrug it off and play the way you play.”

Estrella, who stood a more modest 6-4 as a freshman, especially seems to revel in his growth – both vertically and from a confidence standpoint.

“Now I just want to get in the paint and dunk on people.”

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