Saturday, August 27, 2016

Middle School All-American Game Loaded With Talent

Fisher, Ayiss-Etoh, Key, Alexander, Conway & Peeples
On Friday, Bill Francis rolled out the 2016 edition of his very popular Middle School All-American Camp at St. Johns College High School in Chevy Chase, MD, and as suspected, the event was absolutely brimming over with local and national talent. Year 3 of the event featured 4 all-star games in grades 6th-9th (2023-2020).  The opening game of the night featured 6th graders, and saw Team LeBron James down Team Magic 84-77. The story of the opening game was the dominance of Elijah Fisher (WF/2023/Canada), who exploded for a game-high 22 points and 8 rebounds.  Fisher’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, and officially announced his arrival on the national scene.  Fisher is long, athletic, and skilled and is a problem both offensively and defensively. To be honest, Fisher has as much upside as anybody we saw all night, and that included some really good freshmen! For his production, Fisher took home MVP honors for Team LBJ. Also playing well for Team LBJ were Christian Bliss (WF/New Jersey), who finished with 16 points, followed by Gavin Gillus  (G/2023/Virginia) and Wesley Yates (WF/2023/Texas), both of whom finished with 9 points.  We also liked what we saw with Derik Queen (C/2023/MD), Jaylen Lyn (G/2023/New York). On the other side of the court was Franklin Ayissi-Etoh (WF/2023/Maryland), who led Team Magic with a team-high11 points and a game-high 11 boards.  Much Like Fisher, Ayissi-Etoh has good size, a strong frame and is ok with getting physical in the paint.  Behind him is scoring were Aden Holloway (WF/2023/NC) and Jahkary Towns (PG/2023/MI), both of whom added 10 points.

Freeman, Gillus, Holloway & Towns
Game two featured a 2022 match-up between Team Isaiah Thomas and Team Derek Rose, with Zeke’s squad grabbing the 89-83 W on the strength of a 16-point, 7-rebound outburst from big Derrick Key (C/2020/Washington D.C.).  Key has a nice combination of size, athleticism, and motor. He’s a beast inside offensively, but he can also step away and hit the mid-range jumper and protect the rim from would be shooters. Also putting in work for Team Isaiah Thomas was Dee Morton (6’0/WF/2022/GA), who burst out of the gate with 3 treys.  Just when you thought he’s only a three-point threat, Morton used his big frame to slash to the cup and finish with contact. We also liked what we saw from Chris Livingston (WF/2022/OH) and Jaden Johnson (G/2022/MD), who both finished with 12 points. We loved Livingston’s energy and the ability to get to the rim with athletic drives and finishes.

Livingston, Morton, Bates, Walker & Hamlin
For Team D Rose, Jarace Walker (G/2022/PA) led all scorers with 13 points in 22 minutes of play. Behind him in scoring were Carlos Alexander (combo guard/2022/MD) who finished with 12 points on his way to MVP honors and Emoni Bates (6’5/WF/2022/MI) who added 11 points. Alexander is a quick and crafty PG with a tight handle, ability to create space and make plays for his teammates.  Also, Alexander’s crossover is deadly!  Bates started a little slow, but came on late to show flashes of why so many people consider him one of the top players in his class. Antonio Hamlin (WF/2022/MD) was very active and bouncy to the tune of a game-high 11 rebounds.

The 3rd game of the slate featured a slugfest between Team Michael Jordan and Team Kobe Bryant. Team Kobe got the 77-73 win with major contributions from MVP Ryan Conway (combo guard/2021/MD), who dropped a game-high 29 points on 11 of 15 field goals.   Conway also handed out a team-high 4 assists and was second in rebounds with 10. Conway is a multi-level scoring machine who get’s it done both to the cup and with perimeter jumpers. Carter Whitt (6’0/ combo guard/2021/NC) was spectacular as well and is clearly one of the most skilled guards in his class. Whitt finished with 15 points on 11 of 15 field goals in 23 minutes of play. Finally,  Donnel Harris (6’8/C/2021/FL) finished with 10 points.

Whitt, Harris, Bradbeyy, Reyna & Nelsons
Ohio’s Noah Peeples (6’2PF/2021/OH) got the MVP nod after leading Team MJ with 13 points and 6 rebounds.  Peeples is a bit undersized for his post position, but his strength, motor and determination more than compensates. Jalen Bradberry (5’11/PG/2021/New York) had some bright moments, scored 11 points and showed he can knock down clutch jumpers if left open. Both Juan Reyna (6’1/G/2021/TX) and Matthew Nelsons (6’4/WF/2021/CN) finished with double digit scoring (10), while Nelson and Ahmed Harrison (6’2/G/2021/MD) grabbed 7 rebounds. All-in all, it was a great day of basketball and a nice lead into the Basketball Spotlight Camp that is set for Saturday for morning.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Buckeye Prep Hands Out Post-Season Awards

Because we feel that hard work and dedication should be recognized, for the first time ever, the Buckeye Prep Report will recognize athletic and academic excellence via post-season awards for the top players, coaches and teams.  Selction for these awards are based on 2016 performances. Specifically, an awards ceremony will be conducted on day one of the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, recognizing Player, Coach and Teams of the Year in grades 5th-8th (2023-2020).  In addition, awards will be extended to First Team All-Ohio and All-Academic selectees.  At the conclusion of the awards ceremony complete lists of awards recipients will be published at the event and on the Buckeye Prep website.  Although only “First Team” selectees will receive plaques, many other players will be recognized for standout performance on the court and in the classrooms.  For the most part, the awards are limited to Ohio residents with only a few exceptions. Congratulations in advance to our awards recipients!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Buckeye Prep All-Star Game Rosters Released

Over the past several years, the slate of Buckeye Prep Ohio North vs South All-Star Games have become one of the most prestigious events in the state.  For only the 3rd time, the state’s top 20 players in each of 4 classes (2023-2020) will be divided into teams representing the north and south regions of the state.  Players residing in cities north of Columbus (i.e., Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Canton, Mansfield, etc.) will represent the Team North, while players residing from Columbus south (i.e., Cincinnati, Dayton, etc.)  will represent Team South.  This is truly the ultimate intrastate rivalry that will answer the age old question of where the best basketball is played in the state! 

In terms of interstate rivalries, the event will also include a freshman Ohio vs Michigan game as well as an 8th grade Ohio vs Kentucky game.  These 2 games will feature the top 10-12 players from each of the respective states. These elite games will provide an incredible platform for each state’s top players to both compete at a high level against the best Ohio and the region has to offer, while also providing them with a high level of media exposure.  Selection to these games is an honor, is very comptitive as well as an acknowledgement of a player’s reputation to date.

In terms of the selection process, we sought to attract as close to the top 10-20 players as we could find based on performances at Buckeye Prep and other elite events around the state, region and country, as well as our individual player rankings. With only a few spots available based on region and position, participation in the games is a very tough ticket! Below is a link to the all-star games rosters and tentative schedule. Each player listed has verbally committed to the event; however, if registration forms and fees are not received by August 29th, the spots will be opened up invitations will be extended to fill the vacant spots.  Because uniforms need to be ordered and plans need to be confirmed, the only real commitment is a financial commitment!

These games will be held in conjunction with the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, and because every player participating in the all-star games will also be participating in the elite showcase, the overall level of competition will be extremely high. In addition to the top 20 players from Ohio, other nationally ranked players will also be participating in the event.  All I can say is get your popcorn ready; these games are going to be HOT!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Stars of Shine at UA Next Experience

Jaden Springer and Cashius McNeilly MVPs
With the beautiful Manhattan skyline in the background, 25 of the nation’s top freshman put their talent on display in front of New York City fans and media at Under Armour’s UA Next Experience All-Star Game on Saturday.  Despite the fact that both rosters were loaded with elite talent, there were a few players’ who’s standout performances separated them from their peers. In terms of the final outcome, a Cashius McNeilly-led Team Select defeated Team Pursuit 79-68.  McNeilly (6’4/Toronto, CA) shot 6 of 10 field goals to lead all scorers with 15 points in 13 minutes of play. Behind McNeilly in scoring was big Hunter Dickerson (7’0/Hyattsville, MD) who dropped 14 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. Noah Taitz (6/2/Henderson, NV) came on late in the second half to score an efficient 12 points on 5 of 6 shots. AJ Hoggard (6’2/Radnor, PA) just missed scoring in double figures, finishing with 9 points on 4 of 7 field goals and a game-high 5 assists. Elijah Taylor (6’7/Philadelphia, PA) only scored 4 points, but he hauled in 7 rebounds.

T. Williams, H. Dickson, AJ Hoggard & L.Ware
 Team Pursuit was led in scoring by Terrence Williams (6’7/Clinton, MD), who finished with a team-high 13 points on 6-8 field goals in 16 minutes of play.  Behind him in scoring was Jaden Springer (6’3/Charlotte, NC), with 8 points and a game-high 9 rebounds.  Jeremy Roach (6’2/Leesburg, VA) was the only other player to finish in double figures with 12 points on 6 of 9 field goals.  Lance Ware (6’8/Burlington, NJ) logged in 15 minutes, finishing with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Akeem Odusipe (6’9/Knoxville, TN), and athletic freak, was the second leading rebounder with 8. For their efforts, McNeilly and Springer both received MVP honors.  The UA Next Experience was a fitting end to the 2016 travel season and Under Armour’s slate of events.  Moreover, by most accounts, the debut of the UA Next Combine Series platform was a total success and will be even more highly anticipated in 2017! Below is a link to Saturday’s photo gallery.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

UA Next Experience Day I Activities

The inaugural UA Next Combine Series’ culminating event is set for this weekend in New York.  On Friday, the 26 fortunate selectees convened in New York to participate in the UA Next Experience.  We are in the Big Apple to capture the action so our readers can get some insight into the event.  Friday’s activities included practice at the famed Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. During the 2-hour long session, players participated in skills and drills, learned a basic offense and scrimmaged for about 20 minutes.  Later that evening, the high school guys took the main court on Pier 2 in Brooklyn for 3-point and slam-dunk contests.  Below is a link to a photo gallery, which depicts the images of day’s events. Tomorrow we will publish a recap of the big games and provide our readers with more images.  If day II is anything like the first day, we are really in for a treat!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Update

Below is an email that went out to players and coaches this morning which provides updates for the upcoming Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.  Please read it carefully and contact me at with any questions.


We are now just about 4 weeks away from the fall session of Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, and I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the event format and schedule. As a reminder, the event is scheduled for September 17th & 18th at Otterbein University located at 1 South Grove St. Westerville, Ohio 43081.  On that Saturday, registration will open by 7:30am and run through about 3:30pm. After the all-star games, we will have opening remarks and the showcase games are scheduled to begin around 4:00pm (tentative).  For those players who will be participating in the Ohio North vs South or interstate rivalry games need to arrive at least 1 hour prior to the tip off of their game.  We will be posting the selectees for the North vs South, Ohio vs Michigan (2020) and Ohio vs Kentucky (2021) games this weekend.  If selected, payment and forms must be received ASAP to retain a player’s spot.

We are also happy to announce that Dick’s Sporting Goods will be sponsoring the event this year, and although the details are still being worked out, we know there will be merchandise give aways and discount coupons given out to players and parents!

I plan to have an initial draft of the rosters, team assignments and schedule posted on our website ( at least 1 week prior to the event.  The only names that will appear on the rosters will be those players who have submitted the registration forms and fee. Although I have posted a tentative participant list on the website, that list is not official, so if your son/player’s name is listed there but you have not sent in the forms and/or fee, they will not have a spot in the event.  For those coaches who are bringing multiple players, we need registration forms from each of them as soon as possible. In addition, I have to place the jersey order at least 2 weeks prior to the event and I cannot order a jersey if we have not received the registration fee and forms. Therefore, you must act quickly if you want to get your son/player registered. Additionally, it’s very important that you continue to visit our website on a regular basis so you can follow any updates that may be posted.  There will be slight changes up until the day of the event so please follow the website for updates!

Also, I know a number of you have paid the registration fee via Pay Pal, but have not yet sent in your registration forms.  If that’s the case, I need you to do so as soon as possible so we can match the forms I received with your son/player’s name and get them on my official participant list. If you have/or will pay your fee via Pay Pal, please make sure you bring the receipt with you when you register your son/player. In case you have misplaced the invitation and registration forms, I have attached another copy to this email. I have extended the payment deadline until August 29th, which should be plenty of time for you to get everything submitted.

In addition, the deadline for making reservations at the host hotels will soon expire, so if you have not made your hotel reservations yet, you need to do so ASAP, as the room block will close and you will have to pay the standard rate.

Finally, I’m still in need of a few more coaches for this session.  In addition to the satisfaction of working with young people, coaches receive free admission to the event ($20 value), a t-shirt and access to the Roosters media/coaches lounge where they can relax and enjoy complimentary food and drink the entire 2 days. The media/coaches lounge will be sponsored by Roosters Restaurant. Also, as a reminder, any player who has participated in past events, have been featured on our website or is ranked nationally on statewide is invited to all Buckeye Prep Events.  If you know of any player(s) who meets these criteria, please have them contact me at or 614-203-2929 for an invitation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the event, please feel free to email or call me at the number listed above.

Showcase Information Page


Rob Taylor