Although it’s only October, many of Ohio’s top AAU teams are busy building and upgrading rosters for an AAU season that will not start for another 5 months. So far this off season, no organization has worked harder to retool their roster than All Ohio. George Howard, All-Ohio’s top recruiter, has been working the phones and fall events, and has put together arguably the best collection of talent in the class of 2017 (8th grade).
Based on reports from Howard, only a few of the players who ran with the squad last summer will be returning, as the team will feature some of Ohio’s top players in the class. If reports are true, All-Ohio's 2013 roster will include: Tommy Schmock; Garcia Dixon; Jaylen Harris; Matt Davet; and Logan Hill. With the new additions, All-Ohio should compete with the 2 other elite teams in this class.
Next Level, Buckeye Prep’s #1 ranked 7th grade team last season has not overhaul their roster, but Brook Hall’s team has upgraded with the addition of Ethan Bradds and Floyd Scott, both of whom will provide more size and athleticism in the paint. According to Hall, the team will return Daniel Davis, Keegan Seban, L’Christian Smith and Ryan Profitt. With the returnees and upgrades, look for Next Level to remain as one of the top 2-3 teams in the class.
A potential wildcard for next season may hinge on where DB Hoops' top players land. As most of you know, DB Hoops-Martin featured Kelvin Calhoun II, John Williams and Derek Koch. According to Jerry Williams, who appears to be handling the group, he is confident he can keep his son, Calhoun and Koch together. If they form another team, and add some quality role players, the team could be solid. If the trio joins forces with one of the elite squads mentioned above as a package team, that squad could be special. I’m sure William’s phone will be blowing up in the near future.
In the 7th grade division, Buckeye Prep’s #2 ranked team last season was the Ohio Hoopsters. Although Tony Freeman’s creation will be joining Mike Duncan’s Ohio Basketball Club organization, they will retain the services of most of their top players, including: Tyrell Ajian, Trey Pugh, Antwon Smith Jr.; Dylan Dupler; and Grant Denbow. In addition, Tyler Knetch will reportedly be running with OBC full time next year. According to Freeman, the team will upgrade with the addition of 1 or 2 additional players, but he elected to keep their names a secret for the time being. In addition, there has been some suggestion that Ryan Peaks may be looking to change teams as well, and may be moving to All-Ohio. With their roster of returning players and the new additions, Freeman’s squad should compete for the top spot again next year.
Speaking of power moves, Kevin Jackson’s Murphy AC squad was already tough to beat last season, but with the return of all 5 starters (Jerry Higgins, Coryon Rice, Tyree Harris & Dwayne Cohill Jr.), plus the addition of Yael Hill from King James, and Derrick Veasley from Mr. Basketball Academy, Murphy could wrestle the #1 spot away from All-Ohio Purple. This team should be a monster next year, both in the state and on the national scene.
Lamonte Tillman’s Ohio Hoopsters’ roster will remain intact, as Ty Wiley, Cory Baker, James Madison, David Fitzgerald and Juan Elmore are all set to return to a team that was once considered the top team in the class. The addition of Hilliard’s Isaiah Speelman from the Pickerington Wildcats should add depth to the post.
From what I understand, and despite their success last season, the Pickerington Wildcats’ roster will look vastly different next season if they actually field a team. According to some of the people I talked to, Scott Bradley’s New Birth Warriors will be fielding a summer team, which will include Seth Goodson, Paul “PJ” Jones, Garrett Tipton and possibly Antwuan Johnson. Although Jordan Mitchell and Jeremiah Francis Jr. will be playing up with Bradley’s team in the winter, it’s unclear how long into the spring and summer the two 6th graders will be with the team. Most likely, one or both players may split time between Bradley’s team and All-Ohio Purple’s 6th grade squad. If both players stick around the entire summer, the Warriors could be a tough out.
I have received no word from Gene Ready about his SMAC squad. Most likely, he will return Sincere Carry, Cooper Crawford and Jaret Pallotta to a very solid team. Also, it is unclear if Kings James will be able to find a replacement for Hill, or whether they will suffer more defections.
In the 6th grade division, you know what they say; “The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.” Well that would appear to be the case with DeMarko Bradley’s All-Ohio Purple squad, as the team has reportedly inked the services of Jordan Mitchell and Jeremiah Francis Jr. from All-Ohio Red. Already blessed with a loaded roster with players like DeMarko Bradley Jr., Greg Tribble and Chris’Seon Stringer; Purple should retain their # 1 spot next season.
Unfortunately for All-Ohio Red, “The rich got poorer,” as their roster may be depleted by the time the season tips off in March. Despite all the success this team enjoyed over the past 3-4 years, it apparently was not enough to keep all of the talent satisfied; consequently, parents looked for greener pastures elsewhere. Although it is unclear where guys like Jadien Lipscome and Gerard Reynolds will end up, right now, it’s safe to say, it’s unlikely Red will retain or acquire enough talent to retain their place as one of the top teams in the nation.
In closing, what has been reported in October may not transpire in March; therefore, none of what I have predicted may come true, as parents may be hedging their bets, “double booking/promising” or may simply change their minds completely relative to where they place their child for next year. Stay tuned; it should be another exciting season come March!
Below is a link to my list of the top middle school teams including a list of the team’s top players. I will be updating the list day-to-day as more information surfaces. You will be able to follow the updates by clicking on the logo on the right side of the face page. If you are a coach or parent of one of the teams listed, and you can provide information about the roster, please email me at Taylorobe@aol.com so I can update my information.
Teams to Watch