Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Warriors Claim President’s Day Tourney

New Birth Warriors-37-4
Playing in their final tournament of the season, Scott Bradley’s New Birth Warriors finished with a bang, after their 61-59 victory over Kentucky Premiere at the Ohio Players President’s Day Tournament in Cincinnati on Sunday.  After having fallen to Kentucky Premier 55-53 earlier in pool play, the Warriors had to over come an 8-point deficit in order to claim the 6th grad crown. New Birth was down about 2 points late when Carter Reece knocked down a trey to but the Warriors ahead for good.

The Warriors’ 5-1 tournament record contributed to an impressive 37-4 season long record and put a final stamp of approval on the season. Standouts for New Birth included Davion Bridges (5’6/WF/2023/Columbus), who dropped 22 points in the championship game, Mahjaei Cunningham (5’5/CG/2023/Westerville), who went for 21 points in the semi-finals and Bedi Lori (5’6/WF/2023/Caldwell), who averaged 10 points per game throughout the tournament. 

We had a chance to talk with Jeff Hamilton, Head Coach for Kentucky Premiere, and he could not have been more complimentary of the Warriors. “They [New Birth] play with a lot of intensity.  We respect Coach Bradley and his players.  We were the best 2 teams playing and both teams played very well,” said Hamilton.  Standouts for Kentucky Premiere included: Ayden Hamilton (5’7/WF/2023/Campbell County, KY), Caleb Washington (5’10/C/2023/Florence, KY), Landen Hamilton (4’10/PG/2023/Hebron, KY) and Carter Krohman (5’2/PG/2023/Walton, KY).

Because this weekend’s event was the last time Bradley would coach this group of kids, he was reflective on the season. “We had a fun season.  This is a great group of kids who really got up and down the court and played with great defensive intensity.  We averaged 70 points per game [on the season],” said Bradley.  Congratulations to Coach Bradley, his players, coaching staff and parents for a great season!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Buckeye Prep Alum Secures Ohio State Offer

Jerimiah Francis-2019 PG Pickerington
We’ve been watching him play since the 5th grade, so it comes as no surprise to us that Pickerington Central’s Jeremiah Francis (6’2/ PG/2019) has secured an offer from the Ohio State University.  Francis as always been at the top of his class nationally and the Ohio State coaching staff has finally concluded that he can compete at the Big Ten level.  Francis is a sturdy guard that has little problem getting to and finishing at the rim.  He also gets to his spots for the pull up jumper and can convert in catch and shoot situations.  He’s tough, a ball hawk, and at 6‘2, he rebounds well for his position and can protect the rim if needed.  Congratulation to Francis and his family for this well deserved honor!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Molton at the top of his Class

Adisa "Desh" Molton II-2023 Lyndhurst
Every coach covets a big man to protect the rim, rebound and to provide low post scoring; however, to win at the highest levels, every team needs an elite PG.  Adisa “Desh” Molton II (4’11/PG/2023/Lyndhurst) fits the bill.  Arguably the top 2023 floor general in the state, Molton is highly skilled and dynamic.  Everything you need in a PG Molton possess.  He has the rock on a string; lives in the paint; is one heck of a playmaker; and can shoot it from the perimeter.  Moreover, Molton has multiple dribble moves he employs to defeat his defender and to get into the lane for a floater or dime.  That’s not all, he already understands how to change speeds and direction in order to get by his defender. He’s diminutive, but he’s also a hard-nosed and aggressive competitor who backs down from no one.  He also plays with a great deal of confidence that only comes from countless hours in the gym and competing at the highest levels.

Molton is not only one of the top 2-3 players in the Cleveland area, he’s listed among our top 5 players in the state, and is ranked nationally by several middle school sites. Molton shown a willingness to travel out of state in search of the best competition in the nation, and not only has he excelled at our Buckeye Prep events, he consistently makes all-star teams at elite events around the region and country.  In addition, Molton was selected to Buckeye Prep’s First Team All-State, and participated in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game last September.  It’s also important to note that Molton is an academic star as well, as his 3.267 GPA got him a spot on Buckeye Prep’s 2016 All-Academic Team.

As we pointed out in an earlier story, Molton was a key piece to Damon Stringer’s championship Cleveland Heights team this winter. Stringer is a huge Molton fan and thinks his potential is, "...through the roof..." "Dish lives basketball and has one of the highest IQs of any youth player I've seen," said Stringer.  This spring and summer, Molton will again suit up with Andre Wheeler’s talented MWA Elite squad, where he will be joined by an all-star cast.  According to Coach Wheeler, Molton, "is a little general who is definitely a leader on the court.  He's smart, has a high IQ and runs the team for us," continued Wheeler.  If he stays in the gym, continues to grow and to hone his already impressive skill set, Molton has a chance to be real good, and will likely play in a college backcourt several years from now.  We’ll get our next chance to see Molton and his MWA squad in action at our March 31st-April 2nd Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cottingham Leads Team to 3rd Place Finish

Makail Cottingham-2021-Cleveland
When the clock ran out on Shiloh Middle School’s 2016/2017 season they stood at 10-6 and in 3rd place in their league.  They may not have reached their ultimate goal of a championship, but Makail Cottingham (5’8/CG/2021/Cleveland) certainly reached a few individual goals.  For the season, Cottingham led his middle school team in scoring with 24 points, 6-7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. In addition, Cottingham knocked down 54 treys in 16 games, and hit a scoring high of 43 points in a single game.  In the 3rd place consolation game, Cottingham’s 35 points, 11 assists, 13 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks were not enough to get his team a win.

Cottinham’s middle school success comes as no surprise to us, as we’ve seen him excel at several of our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, and in fact, have featured him several times on this website (see feature).  In addition, here's what we said about Cottingham when we saw him a year ago in a Cleveland area event, “One of the best performances all day was logged in by Makail Cottingham (5’5”/PG/2021/Cleveland). We’ve liked him since we saw him for the first at our elite showcase last year, and his play on Saturday raised his stock in our eyes.  Although he started slowly against a late day matchup with Omar Abuhamden (5’6”/PG/2021/North Royalton), Cottingham got hot from the perimeter, ultimately finishing with 6 treys.  As soon as you think Cottingham is limited to slashing to the cup, he’ll unleash a long-range bomb that finds the bottom of the net. Cottingham is athletic and all ways appears to be in attack mode.  If you fall for any of his many dribble moves and stand up on defense, it’s a layup at the rim.”

We were so impressed with his talent that last season that we selected Cottingham as Third Team All-Ohio and tabbed him for participation in the prestigious Ohio North vs South and Ohio vs Kentucky all-star games.  We also have Cottingham currently ranked among the top 10-15 eighth grade players in the state. From what we’ve seen of Cottingham’s contiued development, division I college coaches should plan to track his progress going forward.  We look forward to seeing Cottingham again at our March 4th elite showcase.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cleveland Heights Crowned League Champions

Cleveland Heights-TNBA 6th Grade Winter League Champions
As they have done 3 other times since the 3rd grade, Damon Stringer’s 6th grade Cleveland Heights Black squad rode a perfect 24-0 season to a TNBA Winter League Championship at Garfield Heights High School on Sunday. On the strength of a 37-24 win over Garfield Heights in the championship game, Cleveland Heights collected their 4th league championship. Although Cleveland Heights jumped out to 15-2 lead, propelled by a ruckus Garfield Heights crowd, Garfield Heights cut the lead to only 2 points by half time.  Despite the Garfield Heights run, Cleveland Heights was able to retake the lead an go on to get the win.

Because Garfield shocked Shaker Heights in the semi-finals on a buzzer beater, Stringer’s team missed out on the much-anticipated rematch with Shaker Heights. Cleveland Heights rolled through the playoffs based on strong play from Marlon Barnes (6’1/PF/Cleveland Heights), Desh Molton (5’2/PG/South Euclid), LA Hayes (5’8/CG/Cleveland Heights), AJ Wheeler (5’2/PG/South Euclid) and Brandon Rose (5’7/PF/Cleveland Heights).  Stringer was clearly proud of his players and parents. “I pushed this team to the limit, and they will run through the wall for me,” said Stringer.  “I challenged them in practice and they all committed to the process, both players and parents,” continued Stringer. We would like to congratulate coach Stringer and his parents and players for an extended period of excellence.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Prospect Alert- Azeem Williams-2017

Azeem Willimas-2017 5'11 PG San Antonio, TX
As most of our followers know, we try our best to provide exposure to young aspiring basketball players from everywhere.  Hailing from San Antonio, TX, Azeem Williams (5'11/PG/2017) is a diamond in the rough. Having transferred into his current school, Williams was subject to Texas’ 365 rule and had to sit out his junior season. Already this season, Williams is the leading scorer in the district and for Fox Tech Law and Health Science Magnet School, where he’s averaging 26 points per game. For his efforts, Williams has received multiple Player of the Game honors by Max Prep.

As the highlight video below reflects, Williams is a dynamic floor general who can get to the spots he wants to and either score or dish.  He has deep range on his jump shot and can also get his shot off the bounce and in the mid range.  He’s an excellent defender both on ball and in the passing lanes.  He’s athletic and is able to get to and finish at the cup though contact.  Also, Williams works well in transition and has great court vision and passing skills.  Williams handles the ball well and is very efficient with his dribble.

He’s not just an athlete, but also a student athlete as evidenced by his gaudy 4.0 GPA.  Williams is also well rounded, as he is taking AP and Dual Credit classes.  In addition, Williams is class president and is involved in several school programs such as the Student Athletic Leadership Council, the school’s Mentoring Program and the National Honor Society.  For programs looking to recruit a dynamic PG, you might want to give Williams a look!