Monday, July 4, 2011

Pre-National Championships-The Young Guys

All-Ohio Red-8th Grade Champions

In the middle school division, All-Ohio’s U-14 teams was favored to win it all after picking up top 30 ranked Esa Ahmed from Shaker Heights.  Although Ahmed played with Team Berea for most of the AAU season, he has joined All-Ohio for the stretch run. As we have already found out on a couple of occasions this weekend, the team with the most talent does not always win.  Such was the case early Saturday when Ohio Varsity upset All-Ohio in a shocker. Despite having a front court full of quality bigs (Esa Ahmed, Michael Simon, Kevin FisherTony Anderson) and highly ranked guards, Red took the loss.  Although I missed the game, I got it on good authority by many who caught the action that Reynoldsburg's Loyd Chatman went to work and hit All-Ohio for 28 points. What's funny is the fact that several weeks ago I told Chatman I needed to see him excel against better talent before I could upgrade his ranking, so I guess he used that as motivation and got it done against some of the top kids in the class!

Loyd Chatman Dropped 28 Points on Red

I did get the chance to catch All-Ohio Red match up with All-Ohio White.  This game featured several of Buckeye Prep’s top 30 players among the two teams.  Right from the tip Esa Ahmed impacted the game with a layup in the opening possession, followed by a blocked shot on the defensive end.  Although Red got out of the gates early and was up 12-4, White battled back and eventually cut the lead to 18-14 with 5:35 left in the half.  From there, White would score only one more point in the half as Red went on a serious run to close the first half at 34-15.  There was not much drama in the second half as Red would eventually claim a blowout (61-39) victory.  Red was led in scoring by Esa Ahmed who finished with 18 points, followed by Hilliard’s Michael Simon who contributed 10. Rodney Coliver Jr. led White with 11 points and Gage Hisey  added 9. Adding Ahmed is almost unfair, as no team in the state can come close to matching their size.  Also, there are very few teams who can come off the bench with two kids over 6’5.  Make no mistake, it’s not just All-Ohio’s post play that makes them a tough out, but their guard play more than solid with Bowling Green’s LaMonta Stone II, and I’m really starting to like Andre Foster (6’1 WG) and JaQuan Harrison (6’3 WF), both of whom have good length, athleticism and big upside potential.

Esa Ahmed MVP

Saturday’s action also included a grudge match between Ohio Varsity and the CYEC Monarchs (8th grade).  The game was up for grabs early, but the Monarchs would eventually over power Varsity with their size and athleticism and go on to get the 65-43 win.  Every time I watched the Monarchs play this weekend I became more intrigued with a few of their players. Toliver Cunningham (Beechcroft) and Niqville Bell (St Charles) paced the Monarchs with 16 and 15 points, respectively, and both flashed some real potential. I also liked Doug Taylor, a 6’6 center who is heading to Columbus Northland this fall.

8th Grade All-Tournament Team

In the 6th grade division, the Capital City Cardinals totally over powered All-Ohio Purple in the championship game, and went on to cruse to an easy 86-38 win. The Cardinals were just too big and physical for the undersized Purple squad. Hilliard's Trey Pugh was simply a monster, and he did pretty much anything he wanted to in the paint.  Pugh led the Cardinals in scoring with a game-high 28 points, followed by Ronnie (LNU) (12) and Ryan Alexander (11). All-Ohio Purple's leading scorer was Frank Royals who finished with 10 points, followed Marcus Barton (7).  One more word about Barton; what he did on Friday was no fluke, as I saw him knocking down treys all day Saturday as well.

Trey Pugh-6th Grade

Although the Inaugural Pre-Nationals Championship was small in numbers, the first-year tournament served as a great tune-up for the elite tournaments in July.  Good luck to all the teams that participated in this weekends event. To see some of the handful of pictures I took at the event visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Also, follow us on Twitter.


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