|Jordan Mitchell-5th Grader Columbus|
This past weekend, I spent some time at Jerry Watson’s Midwest Future Stars tournament in Columbus, where I observed several dominate individual performances. On Friday, the match-up between the U-11 All-Ohio Red (AOR) and the U-12 Buckeye Prep was never really competitive, as the defending national champions pressured Buckeye Prep into numerous turnovers. Between AOR’s relentless full court pressure and Prep’s inability to grab rebounds, All-Ohio went on to a convincing 53-24 win. In the game, Jordan Mitchell was clearly the best player on floor for any team, as he dropped a game-high 24 points and he made it look easy. I’ve seen Mitchell play on a number of occasions and it’s obvious to this evaluator that his game has continued to develop. Although there are a number of talented 5th graders in the state, right now, Mitchell has the most upside potential, and is a clear DI prospect if he keeps his head on straight and continues to work on his game.
While I’m talking about All-Ohio Red, I have to mention the fact that the 5th graders went on to claim the championship in the 6th grade division. Interestingly enough, AOR defeated TNBA, another 5th grade squad, in the championship game. In addition to Mitchell, All-Ohio was led by Gerard Reynolds (MVP) who was a monster in the post, and Jaden Lipscomp who knocked down a boat load of treys over the weekend. Jerome Francis joined the trio on the all-tournament team. Early in the game, TBNA did not appear at all intimidated by Red, as they kept the game close for most of the 1st half (34-26 at the half). However, eventually All Ohio would exert their dominance and go on to get the 59-36 win. The 2 all-tournament team selections for TNBA were David Gulley and Jacx Shenkel.
|Jarron Cumberland-6'3 WF Cincinnati|
On Sunday, I caught the 8th grade championship game between All-Ohio Elite (AOE) and All-Ohio Red (AOR). Unfortunately, it was not much of a game, as AOE is a much superior team, and other than the opening minutes of the contest, AOE pretty much dominated AOR for the rest of the game. What is most important to note was the spectacular play of Jarron Cumberland, a 6’3 WF from Cincinnati. Even though Cumberland got off to a slow start, and only seemed to play at full speed in spurts he left no doubt he was the best player on the floor by a wide margin. Prior to his play on Sunday, Cumberland’s game always seemed to be built around his ability to get to the cup and finish. However, he played more on the perimeter than I have seen him in the past, and he drained a significant amount of treys on his way to a 28-point performance. Had he not missed a couple of break away dunks, and exerted a little more energy early, Cumberland may have gone for almost 40. Finally, Cumberland’s performance, and the easy in which he did it, leaves little doubt in this evaluator’s mind that DI college coaches will be all over this kid. I guess I should mention that All-Ohio Elite won the championship 56-28, and the all-tournament team included Jalen Tate, Gabe Kinard, Kobe Brown Calib Tregre, Carlick Jones and Cumberland (MVP).
|VJ King-6'5 WF ASVSM|
For the first time this season, I had a chance to take in some high school action. In the 9th grade division, All-Ohio Red grabbed the title. Although I did not see the championship game, I did catch the AOR vs BSA semi-final game. In that game, I finally had the opportunity to sit down and watch VJ King play an entire game. If you have not heard by now, King will be moving to Ohio soon, and he has been rated among the top 8th graders in the country by several national scouts. Since the end of last summer, King has been playing up all summer with All-Ohio’s 9th grade team, so many of the people who follow the teams and the players in this class have not seen King. For those of you who have not seen King; let me just say this, the reports of King’s talent and potential have not been exaggerated! This kid has all the tools to play high major college basketball and beyond. That’s about all I’m going to say right now, as I plan to do a full length feature on King within the next couple of days to formally introduce our newest Buckeye to the state. Of course I have to give some props to Esa Ahmed, as he logged in a big time performance against BSA as well. I loved the fact the Ahmed is a mobile big who can step away from the bucket and still be productive. I also liked how Ahmed ran the floor for easy buckets.
|Jae'shon Tate-6'3 Junior Pickerington Central|
I have to acknowledge Pickerington Central’s Jae'shon Tate who may have logged in the best performance of the weekend. Tate's team, All-Ohio Red 16s were playing up in the U-17 division, and in the game I saw, Tate exploded for almost 30 points against a scrappy but less talented BSA squad. Tate's Motor is unmatched by any player in his class. He plays full go the entire game, and coupled with strength and explosiveness, it's easy to tell why his teams win. Also, Tate's high school teammate, Conner Kerns, shot the ball well in the game I watched. Donavaon Benson and Danny Hummer joined Kerns on the all-tournament teams, and Tate was named the tournament's MVP. Nova Village's back court duo of Shamar Waugh and John Draper Jr. deserve some mention in this peace, as both guards helped lead their team to the championship game. Waugh and Draper scored 18 and 19 points, respectively in the semi-final game. Coaches may want to take a look at Lassana Konate, a 6'5 swing man from Kennedy Catholic in Sharon, PA. Konnate is a bouncy athlete who can really score the ball. A definite DI prospect at this point. Chicago's Demetrius Faulkner, a 6'1 junior and Von Steuben HS is one to look for, as the dynamic PG can get you buckets. Every time I looked over to the court he was playing on, he was getting to and finishing at the rim. For the record, Nitro USA took the U16 division with a 74-64 win over the Shining Stars. Columbus' Chris Moxley was the MVP, and Kwamel Wade, Trey Miller, Grant Benzinger and Taylor Lee were all selected to the all-tournament team.
|Kipper Nichols-6'5 PF Cleveland|
I also saw the semi-final game between King James and PGA Rush. King James got the 68-54 win to advance to the championship, and Kipper Nichols put on a show. Nichols has been a standout in our elite showcases, but it’s always good to see our guys continue to develop and realize their potential. On this day, Nichols used a combination of power, aggressiveness and explosiveness to propel his team to the championship game and an impressive 23-point outing. The 6’5 PF from Lakeview St. Edwards has continued to grow in length and bulk, and his athleticism can now be described as special. For all of you college coaches out there, get this kid on your radar fast! I also liked Nicholas’ teammate, Jibri Blount, a 6’4 swing man from The Linsly School in Pittsburgh. Blount backed Nichols up with a 19-point performance of his own. Below is a link to a broader list and pictures of the other standout performers in the tournament.
Spiece Run-N-Slam-Ft Wayne
|Excel-6th Grade Champions|
The most competitive tournament of the weekend in the midwest was the Spiece Run-N-Slam tournament held at the legendary Spiece Fieldhouse in Ft. Wayne, IN. Although this tournament routinely attracts some of the most talented teams in the Midwest, Ohio sent over some of our elite teams and we brought home the gold. Congratulations to the 6th grade Excel for bringing home the championship trophy in their division with a convincing 44-29 win over All-Ohio Purple. If you have been following our statewide team rankings in that division, you know we currently have All-Ohio Purple ranked as our #1 team in the state. Obviously, that will change with AOP’s loss on Sunday. On their trek to the championship game, Excel defeated # 5 ranked Murphy AC by 15 points, the Michigan Warriors by 13, Spiece Indy Heat by 17, Lima Area Lakers by 30+ and Team Tempo by 2 points in over time in the semi-finals. Some of the all-tournament team selections included Dane Goodwin, Matt Allocco, Nathan Hellstedt and Braden Norris (MVP).
In the 5th grade division, DeMarco Bradley’s 5th grade All-Ohio Purple team brought home the gold as well, with a lopsided 60-23 victory over the Milwaukee Spartans in the championship game. All-Ohio got by Salvation Army 38-23 in the semifinals and defeated a talented Ray Allen Select squad 45-31 in pool play. The standout players for Purple were Chris Payne (5’8 WF Cincinnati), Christseon Stringer (5’8 WF/PF Cincinnati), and Malachi Matthews (5’2 SG Cincinnati). It should be noted that Matthews shot the cover off of the ball by hitting 25 trifectas. Currently, Purple’s season long record is 58-4, with 3 losses to All-Ohio Red and one loss to the Indy Hoosiers. Finally, the Toledo Flash notched yet another tournament championship on Sunday. The 4th graders beat Ft. Wayne Next Level, Flint’s Finest, Common Bond, Milwaukee Spartans and the Wisconsin Playground Warriors.
Adidas Best Buy Tournament-Chicago
|Ohio Hoopsters/CCC-7th Grade Champions|
As further evidence that Ohio is producing some of the best basketball in the country, the Ohio Hoopster/CCC traveled to Chicago for the Adidas Best Buy Tournament; they finished 5-0 on the weekend, and brought home yet another championship trophy to the Buckeye State. The Hoopster defeated Chicago Premier, Indiana Elite Express, Illinois Voltage, Indiana Elite Fire and Indiana Elite South to claim the title. Standouts for the Hoopsters were Tyler Knetch (6’2 C Cincinnati), Terell Crowder (5’8 SG Columbus), Grant Denbow (6’0 SG Ashland) and Ryan Peaks (5’8 PG Columbus).
Wildcat Shootout in Lexington, Ky
Shout out to the U-14 SMAC Primetime for getting it done at the Wildcat Shootout in Lexington, Ky over the weekend. In addition, the U12 SMAC finished 2nd to the Go Hard Bulldogs in the same tournament.