Monday, January 24, 2011
Top Seniors Finish Prep Career with All-Star Showcases
For many of Ohio’s seniors, their high school careers will end with either a state championship, or a hearting breaking loss. However, soon after the senior class has played their final high school games, attention will quickly turn to post-season honors. In addition to the all-conference, all-district and all-state-type honors, the most accomplished players will be selected for one of a handful of post-season all-star games. These all-star games range in prestige from the elite national games such as the McDonalds All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, to the statewide games like the Ohio-Kentucky and the North-South all-star games, and even local games such as the various OHSBCA District level all-star games.
In terms of state level all-star games, one of the most prestigious and long-running all-star games pits Ohio’s best ballers against the Kentucky’s top kids, in the annual Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Basketball Game. Since the first game was played back in 1991, the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game has featured many of Ohio’s and Kentucky’s elite prep talent. As an example, some of the players on last year’s Ohio roster included: Aaron Craft (OSU), Jordan Sibert (OSU), Cameron Wright (Pittsburgh), Ralph Hill (Dayton), Griffin McKenzie (Xavier), Quentin Rollins (Miami), Rob Brandenburg (VCU), Kevin Gray (Morehead State), Josh Eigner (Akron), and Mark Henniger (Kent State).
The game’s alumni also include several current and past NBA stars such as Steve Logan (Cincinnati & Golden State Warriors), Sam Clancy (USC & Philadelphia 76ers), James Posey (Xavier & Miami Heat), Calvin Booth (Penn State & Washington Wizards), Kevin Martin (Western Carolina & Houston Rockets), Donta Smith (SE Illinois & Atlanta Hawks) and Romain Sato (Xavier & San Antonio Spurs). More recently, guys like Jon Diebler, Ron Lewis, Matt Terwilliger, Matt Sylvester, Terrence Dials (OSU), Alex Kellogg (Providence), Kenny Freaze and Dante Jackson (Xavier), Chris Johnson (Dayton), Chris & Brett McKnight (Akron), Devon Moore (James Madison) and Nick Dials (OSU & Akron) all participated in the game.
According to Randy Ward, Founder and Game Director for the event since 1990, the Ohio-Kentucky game is unique because “we don’t play politics, we watch and pick the best players.” Primarily, players are selected for the games based on recommendations from high school and college coaches. In addition, most of the players who are selected for the game are either being recruited by division I college programs, or they have the ability to play D-I level basketball. “Ninety percent of our players have played D-I basketball,” says Ward. According to Ward, because the NCAA limits all-star game participation to just 2 games, the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game must compete against the national, state and local games for the elite players.
John Craft, the father of Ohio State freshman Aaron Craft, has experienced multiple all-star games and he was most impressed with the Ohio-Kentucky game. “Aaron had a great time. It was a really good experience and he had a chance to play with guys he had only played against for years,” said the elder Craft. “The event is well organized and the organization was top notch,” continued Craft. “It was a good way for Aaron to finish out his senior year.” Like several of the top seniors last year, because of favorable scheduling, several of the players participating in the game will also compete in the North-South All-Star game, which is currently scheduled for April12th at Capital University in Columbus.
On another note, most basketball fans know that the Bluegrass State has a great reputation as a basketball state. With storied college programs such as the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky consistently produces elite players. However, despite Kentucky’s hoops history, the Buckeye State actually holds a 3-4 game lead in the 20-year history of the game (Boys division). For the Girls game, the reverse is true, as Kentucky has about the same lead.
According to ward, invitations were recently extended, and 80-85% of the rosters are confirmed. Although the Buckeye Prep Report has confirmed that Aaron Thomas (Florida State), Treavon Jackson (Wisconsin), Stevie Taylor (Ohio), Brian Sullivan (Miami) and Nate Anderson (UNC Greensboro) have all received invitations to this year’s event; the final rosters will not be published until mid-March. The game is scheduled for April 9th and will be held at Thomas More College located in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. The Girls game starts at 5:30pm while the Boys game tips off at 7:30pm. The actual all-star game festivities begin on Thursday 7th with the first of 3-4 practices; includes slam dunk and other contests on Friday, and culminates with the Boys and Girls games and a banquet on Saturday. For more information about the game visit at: http://www.oh-kyallstargame.com/1.html, or checkout their Facebook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ohio-Kentucky-All-Star-Basketball-Game/342736878856. Also to read the recap of the event, visit the Buckeye Prep website.