Despite the extensive damage and power outages caused by a fast moving thunderstorm on Friday, the organizers of the Ohio Hoopsters' Midwest Pre Nationals in Columbus found a way to make the tournament happen. With the power out at the USA Sports Academy, most of the action went down at Reynoldsburg HS. Over the course of the event, there were several big time match-ups in terms of teams and individual performances. Although I’m going to talk more about the individual standout performances I saw this weekend, a couple of team match ups need to be mentioned.
One of the biggest upsets in the tournament occurred on Sunday, when the 8th grade Ohio Hoopsters downed the Dayton Heat 50-46 in overtime. Despite an impressive performance by the Heat’s Darnell Hoskins and Derrick Daniels, the Hoopsters refused to lose. Northland bound Naquan Hayes (6’1 C) lead the way with a game-high 18 points. It was a tough weekend for the Dayton Heat, as Ohio’s #4th ranked team fell to All-Ohio Red big time on Saturday. It’s important to note that All-Ohio was rolling with James Manns II, while the Heat was missing several key players including Derrick Daniels. All-Ohio would go on to dominate the Heat and collect a. easy 62-31 win.
All-Ohio’s 9th grade squad played up in the 10th grade division and was cruising toward a championship by the time I left the gym on Sunday. However, playing with a depleted roster that included 7th and 8th graders, All-Ohio survived a scare from a scrappy Team One squad from Cincinnati, and required overtime to get to the win. At the end of the day, Shaker Heights’ Esa Ahmed was simply too much to handle in the post, as Team One hand no answer for Ahmed’s size and skill.
|Jarron Cumberland-6'3 9th Grader|
All-Ohio Elite (2016) was rolling this weekend and may have won the event had they not headed back to Cincinnati early to avoid yet another thunder storm speeding its way through central Ohio. Wilmington’s Jarron Cumberland was looking like a man child in the games I watched, and is clearing establishing himself as one of the top 5 players in the state. Keep an eye out for Kameron Moore, a long 6’5 PF from Middletown. This kid has the length, body type and athleticism that suggest he could be a very good college prospect heading forward.
|Kyran McClure-6'1 PG Columbus|
The 2016 championship game pitted All-Ohio Red against Columbus-based Nova Village. According to sources, Nova Village outplayed All-Ohio in just about every phase of the game, and went on the win the championship by double digits. I have to give a shout out to Nova Village, as every game I saw them play, the kids played extremely hard. I got my first real look at Kyran McClure, and I was quite impressed with his game. As a PG, McClure has good length for the position, and can score at all three levels. He has solid ball skills and is the engine for his team. Gahanna’s Nick Ward is getting bigger and leaner. I had not seen him for a while, but it was clear that when he wants to turn it on, he can get you buckets in the paint. Look for Ward to be suiting up for Gahanna’s JV squad this winter. Gahanna’s Ryan Baker and sharp shooting Joey Rowling deserve some mention as well as both players are valuable pieces to the Nova Village puzzle.
Other than the 8th grade division, the 6th grade division may have been the most stacked. The 2 semi-final games featured matchups between 4 of Buckeye Prep’s top 10 teams. In semi-final #1, Allen Henderson’s 5th ranked Pickerington Wildcats totally dismantled the 7th ranked King James Shooting Stars. Right from the tip, the Wildcats’ suffocating defense resulted in turnovers and a 15-2 lead by the 15:18 mark. By halftime, the score was already a lopsided 32-10. Even with the addition of Chicago’s dynamic Jordan Simmons, Pickerington would advance to the championship game.
|Cory Rice-7th Grader|
In the second semi-final contest, 3rd ranked Murphy AC fought off a hard charging Ohio Hoopsters (ranked 4th) to claim the victory. Although I left before the game was decided, I noted that Murphy controlled the game early, and entered halftime up 18-11. I really liked the play of Murphy AC’s Coryon Rice this weekend. Rice specializes in slashing to the basket and finishing. Very athletic, strong with a high motor best describes Rice’s game at this point. I plan to keep an eye on Dwayne Cohill, a-5’10 WF from Brookpark. This kid could surprise some people in the future as his skill level catches up with his physical gifts (i.e., length, strength, athleticism & aggressiveness). In the 6th grade championship game, although the Wildcats would race to a double digit lead, Murphy AC erased the deficit, and the half time score was knotted at 28. It was nip and tuck the entire the second half. Murphy AC went on to grab the title with a close 55-54 win. Murphy's Tyree Harris finished with a team-high 11 points, followed by Coryon Rice who added 6 points. David Madison was the leading score for the Hoopsters with 9 points.
|Prince Michael-6'9 C Cincinnati|
On Saturday, I caught the game between Team Queen City and All-Ohio Connection. On the strength of a solid performance from Dublin’s Mason Baich, All-Ohio Connection got the 49-41 victory. There was a great deal of discussion about Team Queen Cities’ big man. By most accounts, Prince Michael, a 6’9 man child living in Cincinnati and who will be entering Cincinnati Christen Hills HS this fall, has the potential to be a dominate force in the class of 2016 in the state. Prince looks more like a college junior than an 8th grader, but if the OHSAA approves his application to play high school hoops next year, the debate will surly continue. What is known about Michael at this point is that he is big, strong and well developed physically for his grade. Although he is still very raw offensively, because he has played more soccer than basketball (has only been playing for 2 years), his footwork is surprisingly advanced relative to the other areas of his game. Michael is not afraid to mix it up inside, and if given a chance, he will throw down a rim rattling dunk that appears painful to watch. Stay tuned as we learn more about this kid.
|Mason Baich-5'11 SG Dublin|
Below is a list of some of the standout performers we saw over the weekend. Because I was unable to watch many of the games, the list is incomplete, and does not capture all the players who got it done this weekend.
Dwayne Cohil-5’10 WF Brookpark (7th)
Coryon Rice-5'8 SG Bedford (8th)
Taevion Kinsey-5’5 PG Columbus (7th)
Kyran McClure-5’11 PG Columbus (9th)
Nick Ward-6’4 C Gahanna (9th)
Mason Baich-5’11 SG Dublin (9th)
Jarron Cumberland-6’3 SG Wilmington (9th)
DeAnthony McCallum-6’1 WF Cincinnati (9th)
Joey Rowling-6’0 SG New Albany (9th)
Prince Michael-6’9 C Cincinnati (9th)
James Manns II-6’5 PF Columbus (9th)
Kameron Moore-6’5 PF Middletown (9th)
Derrick Daniels-6’6 C Dayton (9th)
Darnell Hoskins-5’9 PG Dayton (9th)
Ryan Baker-6’1 WF/PF Gahanna (9th)
David Madison- 5'7 WF Columbus (7th)
Jalen Tate-6’1 WF Pickerington (9th)
Jae’Sean Tate 6’4 WF Pickerington (11th)
Esa Ahmed-6’5 PF Shaker Heights (10th)
Gabe Adkins-6’1 SG Upper Arlington (9th)
Antwon Johnson-5’10 WF Dayton (7th)
Jordan Simmons-5’4 PG Chicago, IL (7th)
Isaiah Speelman-6’2 C Hilliard (7th)
Omari Fanbro-6’1 C Bedford Heights (7th)
Tyree Harris-6'2 C Cleveland (7th)
Jeremiah Francis-5’6 SG Canal Winchester (6th)
Keely Elmore-4’5 PG Columbus (6th)