Look out northeast Ohio, there is a new force in the area in the form of Dwight Blair and his DB Hoops organization. Armed with a newly minted contract from Under Armor, Blair intends to grab “A seat at the table with the big boys.” This coming summer basketball season, Blair plans to suit up 31 boys and 7 girls (up from just 17 teams last year) teams in his new Under Armor gear. On Sunday, I hoped in the car and drove up to the NEO Sports Complex in Canal Fulton to check out middle school aged kids at Blair’s 36-team fall basketball league. The 8-week league has drawn about 300 plus kids from grades 5/6th through high school.
One of the best young prospects I saw at Blair’s league was John Williams, a dynamic 5’6 PG from Barberton Middle School. Although Williams is highly skilled, has the rock on the sting, and has a full complement of dribble moves; I was most impressed with his defense, both on and off ball, as well as his ability and willingness to pass the ball. Despite his ability to take his defender off the bounce at will, Williams is unselfish, and allows the game to come to him From what I saw on Sunday, Williams has a claim as one of the top young 7th graders in northeast Ohio.
|Josh Williams-6'4 Freshman Barbeton HS|
As proof that genetics is often a factor in sports, Williams’ brother Josh has a lot of game in his own right. The elder Williams, a 6’4 freshman at Barberton High School, is widely considered as one of the top guys in northeast Ohio as well. Although Williams played his way into the all-star game at my recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September, I did not get a chance to see him play. Still juggling basketball and football, and thou his jumper was a bit off on Sunday, Williams’ creativity off the bounce and his ability to get to the rack were proof positive that the kid can ball.
The Williams brothers were not the only ballers I saw on Sunday, as there were a number of other players in the gym worth mentioning. Below is a list of kids who flashed some game on Sunday: Elijah Porter (5'8 7th grader from Canton), Emanuel Burton (5'9 7th grader from Crenshaw MS in Canton), Andrew Earnest
(5'10 7th grader from Medina MS in Canton), Tevion Cleveland (5'5 7th grader from Edison MS in Perry), Matt Carrick (6'0 7th grader from Edison MS in Canton), Derek Koch (7th grader from New Salem), Zane Reece (6th grader from Barbeton), Covar Chapman (6th grader from Glen Oak), Cody Johnson (5th grader from East Canton), Chris Fonres (5th grader from Canton South), Justis Burton (6’3 9th grader from Canton McKinley). Thanks to Dwight Blair and his staff for their hospitality on Sunday.