Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NEO Showcase Full of Talent

Alonzo Gaffney, Zion Harmon, Mechie Johnson, Tarik Watson & Josiah Harris
On Sunday, we spent a few hours at Sonny Johnson’s NEO Showcase at Garfield Heights High School near Cleveland.  Although we saw only a fraction of the players in attendance, the players we did see shined brightly.  Clearly, the loudest noise came from the high school division where nationally known guys like Zion Harmon and Julian Neman (5’7/PG/Orlando, FL) were crowd favorites.  However, one of the best players in the gym was Cleveland’s own Alonzo Gaffney (6’8/PF/Garfield Heights), who put on a show with highlight highflying dunks and deep treys.  In terms of long-term prospects with next level potential, Gaffney may be the guy.  Point guard matchups ruled the day at the NEO event, as Newman picked battles with anyone brave enough to try and guard him.  Jaythan Bosch (2020/PG) was up to the challenge and his play on Sunday has been immortalized on video.  By now, most basketball fans have seen the videos of the match ups, so we will let the videos speak for themselves. Bosh has the rock on the string, has excellent court vision and easily finds open teammates if he can't get his own shot off. Newman's ball skills are epic; he's quick and heck and can shoot the cover off the ball. To be honest, I'm not sure how you guard the guy! We also have to give a shout out to Fred Mulbah, who whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his above the rim creativity in the dunk contest.  For his services, the PA junior took home the hardware.

In terms of the middle school guys, Meechie Johnson (2021/PG/Garfield Heights) was spectacular!  Not only did he display his ball skills and play making ability, his 3-ball was defenately dialed in.  In fact, at one point, we saw him drain 4 strait treys in a game where he had to have about 5 more.  Johnson’s ability to shoot from deep has made him even tougher to defend.  Ryan Conway (2021/CG/Baltimore, MD) proved why he has been one of the top guards in the country for several years.  His macth-up with Meechie Johnson was another crowd favorite, and the two both got buckets. Conway is strong to the cup, but is more than capable of stepping into a deep trey, or finding a cutting teammate for an easy bucket. In addition, Kobe Johnson (2021/PG/Cleveland) had good weekend, as did Will Jeffress, Darryl Peterson, Brandon Brown, Colin Albert Albert, Trevor Taylor, Deandre Boyd, Mozi Jackson, Davion Edmand, Jai Smith, Randy Brady, Ryan Conway, TyRion Donson, Makail Cottingham, Eric Rivers, Tae Perrie, Michael Lucarotti, Brandon Brown and Henry Raynor.

In the 7th grade division we saw some good things out of Josiah Harris who has returned to the top of his game.  He was good early, fell off a bit due to injury and growth issues, but is back to being a force in the paint.  We also noticed Sean Jones playing well again.  Other standouts in this division included Sonny Johnson Jr., Tavian Tatum, Isaac Gonzalez, Luke Debow, Steven Bodamer, Everton Browne, Nicholas Padilla Jr., Jalen Brown, Danny Young Jr., James Prescott, Detric Hearst Jr., Aden Lal, Zachary Lockhart, Roderick Coffee, Malik Moore, Mason Woods and Austin Cole.

Amaree Pickesn, Michah Tucker, Mikkel Tyne, Javen Vaughn & Jyles Brandon
In the 6th grade division Jayvion Moore (5’11/PF/Cleveland) looked good again since we saw him last week at the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown. Chris White (5’6/SG/WF/Cleveland) and Malik Olafioye (5’5/PG/Detroit, MI) also caught our eye.  Other 6th grade standouts included Xavier Peterson, Duncan Moffitt, Calden Lecee, AJ Wheeler, Tyran Gray, Jakhary Towns, Jordan Fitzgibbon, Curtis Staie, Sam Brown, Anthony Bernard, Tye Curry, Samuels Korbyn, LA Hayes, Chase Welch, Davyn Dejongh, Adisa Molton and Akil Watson.

We really liked several 5th graders we saw such as Amaree Pickens (5’0/CG/Erie, PA), Tarik Watson (6’0/C/New York, NY), Mikkel Tyne (5’4/SG/Tronoto, CN), Maverick Binder (5’3/PG/Auburn, NB), Javen “Tank” Vaughn (4’9/PG/Dayton), Michah Tucker (5’4/CG/Alpharetta, GA), Jyles Brandon (5’3/CG/Bedford) John Mobley Jr. (4’8/PG/Columbus), Demarr Foster (PG/Lima) and Dominic Scott (4’7/PG/Paintsville, OH).  It's important to note that John Mobley's skill level is next level, and it's clear his countless hours in the gym are paying off. Exciting to watch! Other standouts included Gregory Brooks, Jarrett Taylor, Brandon Liepins, Logan Davis, Isaiah Brennerman, Bennett Meyers, Xavier Bowman, J Anthony Grimes, Anthony Januzzi and Mikey Johnson.

The 3rd/4th grade division had some studs as well, including Darryn Peterson, Malsi Pearson, Kodah Allen, Mike Jones, Williams Morris, Justice Griffith, CJ Thomas, Colton Rawlings, Colben Landrew, Daron Miles, Marcus Johnson, Yale Davis, Stephen Thomas, Keshawn Vanval, TJ Crumble, Kevin White, Milan Pere, Kenny Scott, Isaiah Rogers and Gunner Woods.  All in all, it was an exciting day of hoops.  Next up is the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase set for September 16th & 17th in Columbus, OH.

Monday, June 26, 2017

UA Next Combine Washington-Top Guards

Amar'e Marshall, Carter Whitt, Brayon Freeman, Saveon Freeman & Ahmed Harrison
The UA Next Combine Series had its final stop in Washington DC and the talent level was as high as expected.  Let’s take a look at the backcourt players that impressed us during the one-day event.  Our analysis will cover the top point guards and combo guards that attended.  Amar’e Marshall (6’2 PG Montclair, NJ) was the top guard at the conclusion of the event.  He played both ends of the court, was very active on defense and was always in the passing lanes getting steals and going the other way for uncontested layups.  Marshall plays with great pace and is an elite passer that can drive and finish at the rim or knock down the 3ball.  What also impressed us that he rebounded at a high level for his position and he always seemed to be around the ball and in the right spots on the floor.  Last year a NJ guard Noah Farrakhan emerged as a top national PG at the UA Next Combine in DC and we believe that Marshall has next.

Right behind Marshall was Carter Whitt (6’1 PG Raleigh, NC) who was the best pure PG in attendance.  Equipped with great court vision, a high IQ, and a good feel for the game, Whitt is a winner and makes everyone around him better.  He has a nice pull up jumper off the bounce and we saw him make many great lead passes for assists along with hitting defenders with his nifty crossover and exploding to the rim either and finishing or dropping off a pass to one of his teammates for an easy bucket. 

Brayon Freeman (6’0 PG Washington, DC) came to play and wasn’t too far behind Marshall and Whitt.  Brayon, who will be attending national powerhouse Dematha Catholic next year, will be a key contributor to their success over the next four years.  He is a crafty guard that is more of a scorer than a facilitator at this point in his development, but he has the ability to run a team and facilitate the offense.  We saw him lull his defender to sleep with his nifty handle and then hit a turnaround jump shot.  He will also hit you with his crossover and does a great job getting into the lane and finishing in traffic.  Freeman always seems that he is getting to the rim and he has a nice stroke from the line as he is getting fouled a lot attacking the basket.

Saveon Jackson (5’11 CG Greenbelt, MD) was one of the best athletes in the building, not to mention this kid can ball.  Jackson has good court vision and he is always in attack mode.  Very athletic finishing at the rim and he rebounds at a high level for a guard.  Saveon made a nice alley oop pass to one of his teammates and also had one of the better defensive plays of the day as he ran down a player on a breakaway and did a Lebron James type block pinning the shot off the glass. 

Rounding out our top five guards is Ahmad Harrison (5’10 PG Baltimore, MD.)  Harrison is a long-armed guard that looks like he has some inches to grow.  He is the floor general for one of the top teams in the country Team Thrill.  One of the better on-ball defenders in the country he always plays hard on both ends.  He makes the right plays on offense either scoring it himself or setting up his teammates.  Harrison is a good finisher in transition and we saw him make a tough contested layup on the break. Next in line was Freddie Young (6’1 PG Ewing, NJ) who you could tell he really enjoyed passing the ball and getting his teammates involved.  He has nice size for the position and he always pushed the ball with his head up advancing the ball with nice lead passes or throwing nifty bounce passes.  Yong also rebounds well for his position, which allows him to start the break quicker. 

Freddie Young, Avery Brown, Zion Russell, Ryan Conway, Kyle Duke, Tae Perie & Tariq Eubanks
Avery Brown (6’0 PG Bridgeport, CT) is a dynamic point guard that plays well beyond his years.  He can score in bunches or be a facilitator.  We saw him drive hard to the lane and kick to the corner for a wide-open 3ball.  He is strong and compact which allows him to finish in traffic with either hand and he is an above average 3-point shooter as we saw him knock down a pull up 3 pointer off the dribble.  What also impressed us in a camp type setting is that he made the extra pass to get a better shot for his teammates. 

Zion Russell (6’0 CG Upper Marlboro, MD) is quick and explosive and can get to any spot on the floor that he wants.  We saw him display a nice crossover dribble to set up his defenders and attack the paint.  He is a bully going to the basket and is strong enough to finish and ones, but he also displayed a nice euro step in transition.  We also saw him throw a nice lob entry post pass.  Ryan Conway (6’1 CG Lutherville, MD) is a scoring machine.  He didn’t have his best day, but this kid might be the best pure scorer in the country in the class of 2021.  Conway can score from all three levels, but what makes him so deadly is that he’s a knock down 3-point shooter as well.  I liked the fact that he was making a conscience effort to make plays for his teammates by distributing the ball. 

Kyle Duke (6’1 PG Toronto, CN) is a do it all point guard that was coming off an injury so he wasn’t 100% coming into the combine.  Duke is considered the top point guard north of the border and has shown his skills in the states a few times this year playing against elite competition.  He can score from all three levels and has the ability to run a team and he can lock up on the defensive end.

Tae Perie (5’8 CG Barberton, OH) is a flashy lefty guard that isn’t afraid to let it go from deep behind the arc.  Tae knocked down a bunch of 3 pointers with range to the NBA line.  He also has nice handles that help him navigate through the defense.  Tariq Eubanks (5’9 PG Buffalo, NY) is a quick point guard that is always going downhill and putting pressure on the defense and trying to get into the paint to either score or drive and kick.  We liked the energy that Tariq brought and the passion that he played with.  Stay tuned for our breakdown of top wings and bigs.

Photo Credit goes to Kelly Kline

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Alum Drafted to NBA

Josh Jackson-Drafted 4th in 2017 NBA Draft
The Buckeye Prep Report family would like to congratulate Josh Jackson and his family for being drafted 4th to the Phoenix Suns earlier this week.  Before playing his college ball at Kansas, Jackson attended the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in 2012 as part of Team Michigan and the Ohio vs Michigan All-Star Game.  In addition, Jackson’s outstanding play at the showcase garnered him MVP honors.  Below is a highlight video showing some of the work he put in at the event.  We can’t wait to continue to follow Jackson career in the NBA!

Buckeyes Standout at National Events

Tae Perie, Paul McMillan IV & Khalil Luster
Recently, a trio of Ohio players logged in standout performances at various events.  Last weekend, OBC’s Tae Perie (5’8/CG/2021/Barberton) was ranked 23rd at the UA Next Combine in Washington DC.  That event featured 50 of the regions top 8th graders and was highly competitive. Perie has been a perianal all-star and Top 5 Award winner at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, so it comes as no surprise that he continues to get it done against elite competition.

All-Ohio Red’s Paul McMillan IV (6’0/CG/2022/Cincinnati) balled out so hard he was selected as MVP of the Midwest Spotlight Camp in Northern Kentucky. McMillan made an early statement by throwing 37 points on the board in the opening game.  In the post event recap, McMillan was described as “dominate all weekend” and “very efficient.”  With his breakout performances this season, McMillan continues to move up in the national rankings.

McMillan’s teammate, Khalil Luster (4’6/PG/2022/Lima) had a good weekend at the same event, as he was judged to be the “Best Ball Handler” in the gym.  As we have known for sometime now, Luster is a wizard with the rock and is a supreme playmaker.  Other Ohio players receiving recognition at the Northern Kentucky event included Jerry Saunders and Ocean Aunforo.  Congratulations to all of the above listed players for repping the Buckeye state!

Friday, June 23, 2017

MVP Dynasty Black Wins Showdown

MVP Dynasty-6th Grade Champions
MVP Dynasty Black was tested early and often on their trek to the 6th grade title of the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown last weekend.  Right out of the gate in pool play, MVP had to face top 10 ranked and cross town rival Dayton Swish for bragging rights in the Gem City.  Game two for MVP featured a matchup with top 5 ranked MWA Elite, one of the state’s top teams.  Although Dynasty notched a close 44-42 win against the Swish, they lost a nail bitter (63-65) to MWA Elite.  In bracket play, MVP’s 3-0 run went through All-Ohio White (55-19), Shinning Stars (57-35) and a rematch with MWA Elite in the finals (65-54). In the championship game, Mason Shrout logged in a big time performance and led all scorers with a game-high 18 points. Behind him in scoring were Tyron Barnes, who finished with 14 points and Tyrin Sturdivant (MVP) who added another 10 points. Dre’Sean Roberts added 8 points to round out the top scorers.

MWA Elite finished with a 3-1 overall record with wins over Dayton Swish (58-54) and MVP Dynasty (65-53) in pool play.  After a bye, MWA defeated Dayton Swish for a second time (54-43) before losing to MVP in the championship game. Jayvion Moore paced MWA in the championship game with 14 points, followed by Kellen Smith, Marlon Barnes and Desh Molton, all of who finished with 10 points.  In recognition of the Dynasty’s championship run, they have ascended to #3 in our Power Rankings!

TAD-5th Grade Champions
In the 5th grade division, TAD took down the Lima Gators (57-45) to win the title.  TAD’s undefeated run included victories over All-Ohio Black (60-16), All-Ohio Phenom (62-53), All-Ohio Black for a second time (59-31) and the Lima Gators (57-45).  Standouts for TAD were Ethan Stare (13 points), Sam Johnson (11 points) and Dante Vartasso (10 points).  The Gators beat All-Ohio Phenom (54-47), All-Ohio Black (53-40) and All-Ohio Phenom (49-45) before losing to TAD in the championship game. The leading scores for Lima were DeMarr Foster who dropped a game-high 18 points, followed by Amorion Glenn who finished with 11 points. 

Although the numbers were smaller, we think the general consensus is that the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown was a very competitive event, featured multiple ranked teams in each division and provided an excellent level of exposure for teams and players!  Next up for Buckeye Prep is our fall elite showcase scheduled for September 16th and 17th at Otterbein University. Every ranked player and/or any player who we’ve written about on this website are invited to participate in this prestigious event.

UA Next Combine Series East Top 25 Rankings

Julius Ellerbe, Darrius Tilghman, Amar'e Marshall, Nnanna Njoku & Carter Whitt
The 2017 UA Next Combine Series’ final session of the season and represented a fitting end to Under Armour’s second-year youth basketball intuitive.  This season, Under Armour’s partnership with the Jr. NBA added several dynamic elements to an already successful platform. Last weekend, 50 players participated in the final event that was held at St. John’s College High School in Washington DC.  As was the case with the 4 prior sessions, combine attendees participated in NBA-styled combine testing, skills and drills stations, educational workshops and 5-on-5 competition. 

Similar to the last 4 sessions (Chicago, Atlanta, LA & Dallas), the talent level in the gym was impressive.  Below is list of the top 25 players at the event.  As a preface, our list does not represent “national rankings,” rather our opinion of who were the top 25 performers at the event.  In addition, over the next couple of days we will be breaking down the top players based by position.  Finally, over the next few weeks we will be determining the participants for the UA Next Experience All-Star Game scheduled for Brooklyn NY in August.

Top 25 Rankings:

1) Julius Ellere (6’5/WF/Temple Hills, MD)
2) Darrius Tilghman (6’3/WF/Baltimore, MD)
3) Amar’e Marshall (6’2/PG/Montclair, NJ)
4) Nnanna Njoku (6’9/PF/C/Newark, DL)
5) Carter Whitt (6’1/PG/Raleigh, NC)
6) Mohammed Aminu (6’5/WF/Temple Hills, MD)
7) Jai Smith (6’9/PF/C/Middleton, NY)
8) Brayon Freeman (6’0/PG/Washington, DC)
9) Jakai Robinson (6’4/WF/Fort Washington, MD)
10) Victory Naboya (6’8/PF/Upper Marlboro, MD)
11) Savon Jackson (5’11/CG/Greenbelt, MD)
12) Ahmed Harrison (5’10/PG/Baltimore, MD)
13) Adam Walden (6’9/PF/C/Columbia, MD)
14) Shane Dezonie (6’4/WF/Tobyhanna, PA)
15) Isaiah Cornish (6’5/WF/Baltimore, MD)
16) Freddie Young (6’1/PG/Ewing, NJ)
17) Avery Brown (6’1/PG/Bridgeport, CT)
18) Javonte Brown (6/9/PF/C/Toronto, CN)
19) Zion Russell (6’0/CG/Upper Marlboro, MD)
20) Ryan Conway (6’1/CG/Lutherville, MD)
21) Tristian Jeffries (6’4/WF/Belle Mead, NJ)
22) Kyle Duke (6’1/PG/Toronto, CN)
23) Tae Perie (5’8/CG/Barberton, OH)
24) Tariq Eubanks (5’9/PG/Buffalo, NY)
25) Zaakir Williamson (6’6/WF/Philadelphia, PA)