|6/7th Grade Top 5 Award Winners|
With over 270 players participating in the event, it can sometimes be difficult for players to standout in the crowd. Because I’m forced to play the role a showcase administrator during my event, I don’t always get a chance to see all of the standout players personally. However, I bring in scouts like John Stovall (ESPN/Prep Spotlight/Nike), Spencer Pulliam (Dunkdog.com), Kurt Stubbs (JJ Huddle), Ty Kish (City League Hoops), Brian Rogers (CourtCred.com), Darnell Strickland (Cap City Prep) and others to do the bulk of the scouting.With that said, I do get a limited opportunity to walk around and watch a few games, and that’s when a player gets an opportunity to catch my eye. Although there will be additional post event reports and videos coming from some of the above scouts in the next few days, and I have posted a list of the all-stars in an earlier piece; I wanted to feature some of the kids I saw and was impressed with.
|Cody Blakenburg-6th Grader Lansing MI|
Since I already featured the spectacular play of Chicago’s Jordan Simmons, I will start with some of the other younger guards I saw. Remember this name; Cody Blankenburg. This little PG showed a game beyond his years. Only a 6th grader, Blankenburg is crafty, aggressive and possesses solid ball skills. Because Blankburg is a ball hawk on defense, if he guards you, your handle had better be straight. His standout performance not only earned him a spot on the all-star team, but he took home Top 5 honors as well.
|Chase Rankin-6th Grader|
Staying with the point guards, Gahanna’s Chase Rankin had a good day as well. Rankin is just a 6th grader, but his skill level is advanced for his age, as he can shoot, it, dribble it and pass it. Rankin’s sold play punched his ticket to an all-star roster, on his way to a piece of Top 5 hardware. As he continues to strengthen his mental toughness, Rankin has a chance to do some great things. Columbus guard Troy Taylor Jr. looked good as well, and represents another skilled 6th grader with a bright future. Taylor, son of former Ohio State standout Troy Taylor, has all the tools to excel at the high school level. If he chooses basketball as his first love (he is a big time golf prodigy), the sky is the limit for Taylor.
|Brian Miller Jr.-6th Grade|
Before I finish with the guards, I have to send a shout out to Brian Miller Jr. who impressed some guys on Sunday. Miller creates well for him or his teammates, he has a nice little floater and runner, and he does a great job with on ball defense. Miller really can score the ball, and he does a sold job with running a team. Add Deshon Parker to the list of standouts as well. In addition, you might want to keep an eye on Zeb Jackson and Ketann Wyatt, both of who reside in Toledo and are only 4th graders and have a bright future. Finally, Trey Syroka, a 5th grader, impressed his coach with his high basketball IQ and his solid point guard play.
|Antown Johnson-6th Grader|
According to his coach, not only was Dayton’s Antown Johnson the number 1 ranked player on his team, he was the “Best Defender and “Mr. Hustle” all rolled into one. I have seen Johnson play on several occasions, and every time I see him he is dominates the competition. Although he may be a bit undersized for the post, he is virtually unstoppable under the bucket. Johnson’s success is not just limited to post play, he can handle the rock and knock down the 3-ball if left unguarded. As if that was not enough, the kid just plays hard. Similar to Johnson, Jeremiah Snorton from Cincinnati is a beast around the cup. Although his team did not have the benefit of a legitimate big man, Snorton went into the paint and collected the lions share of the rebounds for his squad. The best part of his game right now is his assertiveness, strength and determination.
|Jaylen Harris-7th Grader|
Unfortunately, there was a tournament scheduled this past weekend which conflicted with the showcase. Consequently, the numbers and the talent level in the 7th grade division was a bit down from the past showcases. With that said, there were still some very talented 7th graders and superior performances at the event. Let me start with Cleveland’s Jaylen Harris, who logged in another dominate performance on Sunday. As was the case at the September showcase, Harris was clearly one of the top 2 or 3 players at the event in his class. Possessing good size and athleticism, Harris is a match up problem for most players his age. If he continues to work hard and to develop his craft, we could be talking about Harris for many years to come.
|Keegan Saben-7th Grader|
Although he attended his first Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase on Sunday, it was not the first time I’ve seen Beavercreek’s Keegan Saben ball. As he has done just about every time I’ve seen him play, Saben proved that his game is superior to most kids in his class. Saben has good length, a high basketball IQ and he can really put up numbers. Also, when he puts his mind to it, Saben is a good defender. When I release by 7th grade rankings in a few weeks, Saben's name will be near the top! Dayton’s Jacquel Freeman-Park has another great showcase as evidenced by his all-star game selection and Top 5 finish. Known as “Shaq,” Freeman-Park is perpetual motion on the court, as he pushes the rock in transition at break neck speed, and defends the heck out of the ball. Despite his diminutive size, I’m not sure there is anyone in the class that plays harder than this kid.
|Jaquel Freeman-Park-7th Grader|
I have to give some props to Ryan Peaks who continues to stake a claim as one of the top 7th graders in the state. Peaks had another all-star caliber performance on Sunday, thus building on his already sizable basketball resume. In addition, add Alonzo Booth, Tommy Grogan, Alphonzo White, Braden Van Cleave and Dan and Matt Sichterman to the list of top 7th grade performers. each of these guys played well on Sunday. I will be posting similar pieces on the other 2 divisions over the next couple of days.
All-Defensive Team: Chase Rakin, Dan Sichterman, Antown Johnson, Jordan Simmons, Kameron Gover, Ryan Peaks and Jaylen Harris.
All-Hustle Team: Jaleel Long, Jakoby Harvey, Antown Johnson, Anthony Mills, Braden Van Cleave and Matt Sichterman.