Tuesday, January 31, 2012

East vs West All-Star Game Preview

East vs West Qualifying Camp

Modeled after the prestigious McDonalds All-American Game, Toi Baylor’s East vs. West All-Star games provide very talented middle school aged basketball players with an opportunity to compete at a high level and against some of the top 4th-8th grade players from around the country. According to Toi Baylor, Executive Director of Baylor Youth Foundation (BYF), the All-Star Games will feature the top 100 amateur players from across the country. The first year event is currently scheduled for March 3rd at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana.

Participants in the event hail from 9 different states, and as far away as California. To qualify for the event players had to excel at the East vs. West Qualifying Camp which was held in Chicago the weekend of November 5-6, 2011. Of the roughly 93 players scheduled to attend the event, only 2 will represent Ohio. Ben and Peyton Harris, 5th & 6th graders, respectively, will be the lone Buckeyes at the event. To increase participation at next year’s event, Baylor intends to increase the number of regional qualifying camps. In addition, Buckeye Prep will partner with BYF to insure greater participation of Ohio kids next year.

In terms of the format, there will be an all-star game in each of the 5 grade divisions from 4th-8th grades, starting with the 4th grade game at 3:00pm and finishing with the 8th grade game at 9:00pm. Some of the event’s other features include a red carpet and an interview segment as part of the ceremony, as well as recognition for all honor roll student athletes.

As a little background on Baylor’s organization, the Baylor Youth Foundation (BYF) was founded in 2001 and has as its mission to create a nurturing environment and to foster character-building skills through recreational and educational enrichment activities. Toi Baylor has been hosting AAU and NCAA events for over 8 years and is highly respected in youth athletics in the Hoosier State. To learn more about the East vs. West All-Star Game or other BYF-sponsored events, visit her website at the links below.

All-Star Game Participant List
Baylor Basketball Link
Baylor Basketball Facebook Page

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ahmed Named Player of the Week

Esa Ahmed-6'6 Fr. C Shaker Heights

Freshman standout Esa Ahmed, a 6'6, 200 lb. center from Shaker Heights, was recently named Cleveland.com "Player of the Week" for the week of January 27, 2012.  According to the article, Ahmed led his Shaker Heights squad to a 61-58 overtime win over Warren Harding. In the game, the freshman finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Ahmed's success comes as no surprise to us, as Buckeye Prep has watched him dominate the competition at AAU events and at our elite showcases for several years. From our advantage point, Ahmed has long since established himself as a top 5 player in the state in his class! Congrats to Esa and his family for this outstanding accomplishment!

Huskies Remain Unbeaten

In front of a ruckus and standing room only crowd last night, the 11-0 Valerie Huskies faced off against a 11-0 Stivers Tigers for first place in the Dayton Public School League; the #1 seed in the league tournament, as well as Dayton area bragging rights. Although billed as one of the biggest junior high school games of the year, the final score did not follow the script. Not only were the 2 teams undefeated, but the game featured several of Dayton’s top 8th graders. Stivers is led by arguably the top PG in the state (although Riggens, Simpson and Rogers might argue the point) in Rodrick Caldwell, while Valerie featured Joey Williams Jr, DJ Hoskins and Josh Smith, all of whom are listed among Buckeye Prep’s top 8th graders.

After the tip, the Huskies drew first blood when DJ Hoskins drilled a deep trey on the opening possession of the game. Stivers countered with a fast break layup on an assist by Caldwell. Valerie would then go on an 8-0 run before Stivers would answer. By the end of the 1st quarter, the Huskies were ahead 17-5. It was clear very early in the contest that Valerie was the more talented team, while Stivers was heavily dependent on Caldwell. Unfortunately for Stivers, Caldwell was more content on being a distributor than a scorer early, was injured at about the 1:57 mark chasing down a loose ball, and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the quarter. While Caldwell was out, Isiah Willams (6'3 S/PF) took control of the reins and did his best to weather the storm.

Isiah Williams-6'4 SF/PF- Showed Potential

Caldwell returned for the start of the second quarter, as Stivers scored on the first 2 possessions to cut the lead to 17-9. Valerie would get back on track with a Joey Williams Jr. bucket. Although he did not score his first points until 2:58 left in the second quarter, Caldwell caught fire and scored on 3 straight possessions including a layup, 3-pointer and a second layup to bring his team to within 6 points (23-17). Each team would score one more time before entering the locker room with the score 25-19, Valerie.

As he did the opening possession of the game, DJ Hoskins knocked down a trey to start the second half (27-19). Caldwell answered with a breakaway layup to cut the lead to 4 points. It was about that point in the game when the Huskies’ pressure defense really started resulting to turnovers and easy transition buckets, while their bigs (Williams and Smith) began controlling the boards. Valerie would start the 4th quarter up 41-28, and they never really looked back from there. The Huskies would go on to claim a stunning 57-37 victory. At the end of the day, Valerie was simply more talented and enjoyed more depth than Stivers. Though Caldwell did his best to keep his team in the game, rarely does a one man team beat a total team effort.

DJ Hoskins Paced Valerie With 17 Pts

Valerie was paced by DJ Hoskins who dropped a game-high 17 points. Right behind Hoskins in scoring was Joey Williams Jr. who added 14, Josh Smith who finished with 12 points, and Christian Montaque who added 6 points. For Stivers, Rodrick Caldwell led the Tigers with a team-high 16 points, followed by Chaz George who added 8 points, Isaiah Williams who contributed 7 markers and Sharief English finished with 4 points.

When asked about his team’s play last night, Stivers head coach Anthony Jackson was disappointed in his team’s work around the basket. “We did not rebound well, that was the bottom line. We did not box out,” stated Jackson. In addition to rebounding, Jackson felt the facility placed his team at a disadvantage. “That was our lowest scoring game. We should have had the venue another place; that gym is just too small,” added Jackson.

Rodrick Caldwell Finished With 16 Pts

Although Caldwell was held to well under his average in scoring, Jackson was still impressed with his star player’s performance. “Rodrick played very well considering he sprained his ankle last week [against Rosa Parks 3 games ago]. [Also], “We run a very open flex offense. With them [Valerie] doubling him [Caldwell] up, and in that [small] gym it’s tough. The gym was too compact for the kind of offense I have,” continued Smith. About the pre-game hype surrounding the game, “Too much hype put into it. I just kept hearing about Valerie; too much overkill,” Jackson offered.

Valerie’s head coach, Jeff Smith was pleased with his team’s efforts. “My boys came out pretty prepared, and because of the hype before the game, they were very excited,” said Smith. I thought they [his team] performed well as a team; they executed as well as I could have expected,” continued the coach. According to Smith, the difference in the game was defense. “Keeping the ball out of Cladwell’s hand as much as possible. DJ Hoskins played great defense on him and kept him going left to right,” continued Smith.

Like his counterpart, Smith was concerned about the pre-game hype surrounding the game. “They kind of over hyped it [game]. The team [Stivers] only has 3 kids that can make a difference. [I] never seen a one kid team beat 5. One guy producing; when he is not on they struggle. I did not see how they were 11-0. Every team they played they were beating by 20 [points], but they let them back in and the team would end up losing by only about 6-10 points,” offered Smith. “The hype was not justified. It happened just like I expected,” Smith stated.

With the league championship game slated for Stivers' gym, there is a good chance these two teams could face each other again in the championship game. Buckeye Prep intends to keep an eye out for this game! Good luck to both teams as the finish up league play.   Game Pictures.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buckeye Prep Remains Undefeated in League Play

Buckeye Prep 6th Grade Squad

With their convincing 51-13 victory over the Pickerington Thunder on Sunday night, Coach Ed Lyshe’s 6th grade Buckeye Prep squad is now 3-0 in the Game Time Baller’z Competitive League which is held at the USA Sports Academy on Sunday evenings. In their win last night, although the Thunder drew first blood, Buckeye Prep employed stifling pressure to spark a 21-2 run, and a 23-5 first half score Although the Thunder again scored on the opening possession of the second half, Buckeye Prep was simply too tough for the Pickerington squad, and rallied to finish the game with a lopsided 51-13 victory.

Troy Taylor Jr-5'6 SG Westerville Blendon

Prep was led in scoring by Troy Taylor Jr, (5'6 SG Westerville Blendon) who rode a hot shooting night to a game-high 15 points. It was my first look at Taylor, and I was quite impressed with his skill set and composure. The kid has a text book looking shot. Right behind Taylor in scoring was Chase Rankin (5'7 PG Gahanna East) and Julius Brown (5'3 PG Westerville Walnut Springs), both of who finished 11 points. Although Lyshe’s team is more focused on the spring and summer AAU season, participation in the league allows the team an opportunity to work on various offenses, defenses and team chemistry. Buckeye Prep will begin the AAU season in late March, and look forward to a very competitive schedule.

Chase Rankin-5'3 PG Gahanna East

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stars Look to Tourney for Payback

Derrick Daniels-6'6 8th Grader St Mary Queen of Peace

Sitting at a more than respectable 13-3 overall, and an 8-1 league record, Coach Byron Priest and his 8th grade Mary Queen of Peace Stars are looking for not only a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) championship, but a rematch with their arch rivals, St Charles (8-1) , in the CYO post season tournament which starts on February 4th. “We split with them this season, but they beat us last Sunday in an ugly, low scoring game,” said Priest. Although the Stars have already locked down a number one seed, as well as a first round bye in the tournament, the team’s focus appears to be centered on a rematch with St. Charles. “We expect to play St. Charles. We are rooting for them to get to the championship game,” added Priest.

The rivalry between the two programs goes back a number of years, with each program taking turns winning the regular season and tournament championship. Last year, the then 8th grade team, finished undefeated on their way to the league title. That team was led by Amos “AJ” Harris, now one of the top freshmen in the state, as well as the starting PG for Dayton Dunbar this year. However, the current team, as 7th graders last season,  lost to St Charles in the championship. “It’s the first CYO game I have lost in the 2 years I have been coach here,” continued Priest.

So far this season, the Stars have relied on heavy defensive pressure and easy transition points to get to 13 wins. “We run a man-2-man and a 2-1-2 press to turn teams over. After that we get easy transition points. If you let us run, there is no one who can stop us,” offered Priest. In order to find competition, the Stars have played an aggressive non-conference schedule. “We go out of conference to get games. You only get 10 games in the CYO, and we need to test ourselves in high profile games,” Priest added. Other the St. Charles, the only other teams to beat the Stars were Valerie and South Dayton.

The Stars are led by Terrance Landers (6’1 WF) and Derrick Daniels 6’6 C), who are averaging 19 and 17 points per game, respectively. In addition, Daryl McClusky (5’6 PG) is averaging 7 assists per game. The other starters include Thomas Ellison (6’0 PF) and Cameron Greer (5’6 SG). Daniels is very familiar to Buckeye Prep based on his play at various AAU events, as well as his all-star caliber performance at the fall Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase. In fact, Daniels is ranked among Buckeye Prep’s Top 30 players statewide, and McClusky and Landers are listed among our Top 150 players in Ohio.

The Star reserves include Lamar Lawrence (6’2 PF), Mike Ivy (5’10 WF), Chris Spearman Jr. (5’7 SG), Remy Hudson (5’10 SF), Cory Hastings (5’9 SF), DeBraoun Robinson (5’7 PG), Chris Pooler (6’3 C), Dalashawn Elder (5’7 SG), Deontay Lee (5’8 SF) and Gequan Cochran (5’8 PF). Coach Priest is assisted by Chris Spearman Sr. and Kevin Long. Buckeye Prep would like to wish Coach Priest and his team much success in their upcoming tournament.

Rodrick Caldwell-5'7 PG Stivers MS

While we are on the subject of Dayton-area basketball, it should be noted that Valerie Middle School has an undefeated season cooking as well, and has been beating teams by 25-30 points. Valerie is led by Joey Williams (6'2 WF) and DJ Hoskins (5'11 PG). The other undefeated and dominant team in the area is a Rodrick Caldwell- led Stivers. Caldwell is listed among Buckeye Prep's Top 10 players. From what I hear, the showdown between Stivers and Valerie on January 26th is going to be a monster game! Good luck to all of the featured teams.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eagles Hope for Tourney Rematch

Milford Eagles 7th Grade Team

The Milford Eagles’ 7th grade team was humming along at 8-0 until they ran into an undefeated King Jr. High last week in FAVC conference play. Despite possessing a 1 point lead late in the contest, the Knights went on a 16-4 run, before eventually claiming a 10 point victory over a now 8-1 Eagles.

With the loss, the Kings are the clear favorite to claim the regular season crown. “With their schedule, they [Knights] won’t lose a game the rest of the season,” said Eagles’ Head Coach Jim Campbell. Despite their loss to the Knights, Campbell expects his team to finish no worse than top 3 in the league, and he is confident his squad can win the league tournament. “Our goal is to win the league tournament at the end of the year,” added Campbell. Although undersized, the Eagles rely on team speed, solid defense and hot shooting to compete against bigger teams.

Craig McGee-5'5 PG Milford Eagles

The team is led by a pair of captains in Craig McGee Jr. (5’5 PG) and Wes Ried (5’10 WF). We are familiar with McGee, as his outstanding play at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September earned him a spot on the all-star team. The other starters on the team include: Matt Kirk (5’7 WF), Isaiah Giordullo (5’7 WF), and Max Brewer (5’9 WF). The Eagles’ reserves include Ryan Hickey (5’7 WF), Nick Glasgow (5’4 SG), Nathan Arnold (5’5 SG), Keith Carter (5’6 WF), Jason Mayleben (5’8 WF), Tyler Smith (5’6 WF) and Jack Hannah (5’3 PG).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Birth Claims MLK Title

New Birth Warriors-MLK Holiday Tournament Champions

My have things changed in one year. About this time last season, I watched an over matched New Birth Warriors team get hammered by an extremely talented Dayton Airman squad in the 5th grade division of the 2011 Dayton Airmen MLK Holiday Tournament in Dayton. However, this year the roles were reversed, as Scott Bradley’s Warrior squad completely out classed an inferior Airman team in the same tournament. No disrespect to the Airmen, as they have some nice pieces, they play hard and can beat most teams; the problem is, the Warriors aren’t most teams. Last year, although Bradley's team was talented, they were young, consequently, they took their lumps.  Fast forward to this year; the Warriors are seasoned and deep, consequently, they are giving out lumps!

Paul "PJ" Jones

Right from the tip yesterday in the 6th grade championship game, the Warriors’ up-tempo play, defensive pressure and precision passing resulted in a quick 7-0 lead. By the end of the first quarter, and behind the hot shooting Paul “PJ” Jones (3 treys), New Birth enjoyed a sizable 23-9 lead. It’s important to note that due to the slippery conditions of the court, the Airmen’s top player, Antown Johnson, went down with what initially appeared to be a serious leg injury. In addition, New Birth’s Jordan Mitchell suffered a leg injury as well, and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the first quarter.

Antwon Johnson-23 pts in Championship

In a pure Willis Reed fashion, Johnson was the first player to return to action, and would do his best to keep his team in contention. However, despite his heroic 23 point effort ( the kid had a monster game shooting and in the paint), and the fact that Dayton was able to cut the lead to within 10 points (32-22) by halftime, the Airmen could not withstand New Birth’s constant pressure and resulting easy buckets. In fact, you could see the Airmen players hit the proverbial wall midway through the third quarter, as the Warriors cruised to an impressive 72-41 victory.

Jorden Mitchell-5'9 5th Grader

Although Antown Johnson was almost a one man show (Deshawn Parker did some good things at the point), New Birth’s production was more balanced, as three players finished with double digit scoring. Although the Warriors’ squad is loaded with talented, the player with the most upside potential is clearly Jordan Mitchell, a 5’9 swing man from Columbus who has great size and a nice skill set. Since I last saw him play, Mitchell has refined his shot to the point that he can consistently knock down the 3 ball. With his size and length, Mitchell can play multiple positions, both inside and on the perimeter. In addition, Mitchell moves well without the ball and his vision and passing skills are excellent. In conclusion, I know he is only a 5th grader, but it is already quite evident that this kid has the kind of “special” qualities that high major coaches will covet.

Seth Goodson-5'6 SG Gahanna

As I mentioned, New Birth has number of quality players including Paul “PJ” Jones, arguably the team’s best shooter. Jones finished with 4 treys and 16 points in the championship game. I also had my first good look at Seth Goodson, a 5’6 SG from Gahanna, and I liked what I saw! Goodson is a sturdy and rugged guard who excels at slashing to the cup and finishing. Goodson finished with a team-high 19 points. Tony Stiab and the Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions could be getting a good one in a few years! I have to mention the man at the point, Ty Wiley, a 4’9 floor general from Columbus (7 points), and Jeremiah Frances, a 5th grader from Columbus, both of whom are starters and big contributors to the team. Congratulations to Coach Bradley and his players and fans for their impressive display of fundamental and team-oriented basketball this past weekend. It was a joy to watch!!
Dayton Airmen- 5th Grade Champions

Congratulations are also extended to Coach Moore and his 5th grade Dayton Airmen squad for their hard-fought 38-37 victory over the Dayton Swish in the 5th grade championship game. Although the Airmen never trailed in the game, it was close all the way until the clock showed zeros. Standouts in that game included the MVP, Kendall Moore, a lighting quick point guard who finished with 11 points, Brain Johnson, Dakarai Maybry, Robert Oliver, Kadar Gardner, Samuel Anderson, Martell Smith and Byron Lanier.

Kendall Moore-Dynamic 5th Grade PG

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

T-Birds Still Undefeated

Xavier Simpson-5'9 PG Lima Central Catholic

Lima Central Catholic’s 8th grade squad is well on their way to back-to-back undefeated seasons. So for this season, the T-Birds are a perfect 9-0, and are poised to repeat the success they enjoyed last season, when as 7th graders, they finished with an unblemished mark and as Northwest Conference champions. So far this season, no middle school team has come within 20 points of the T-Birds. In fact, in an away game against a highly respected Dayton Chaminade Julienne team, Lima Central Catholic got out of town with a convincing 20+ point win.

Because of the T-Birds’ dominance last season, the school will opt out of the conference tournament this year, and will now set their post season sights on winning a tournament sponsored by Bath Middle School. From what I understand, the Bath sponsored tournament is supposed to be much more competitive.

According to one source close to the program, the T-Birds’ success is largely due to their outstanding guard play, and the fact that they have multiple players who can shoot the rock. Not only can they score the ball, mostly from driving and dishing; defensive pressure has been a key, as has the fact that several of the players have high basketball IQs, derived from many years on the AAU circuit.

The starters for the Knights include: Xavier Simpson (5’9 PG), Josh Dixon (5’6 SG), Ethan O’Conner (5’10 SF), Nick Taffinger (5’11 PF) and Ryan Rhodes (6’3 C). In addition to the starters, Tre Cobbs (5’9 SG) and Dantez Walton (5’11 SF) are both productive off the bench.

The team is powered by Xavier Simpson, a crafty and skilled PG who is listed as one of Buckeye Prep’s Top 30 players. So far this season, Simpson is averaging around 17 points and 10 assists per game. Through his play on the AAU circuit, as well as his standout performances at out our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, Simpson has established himself as one of the top 2 or 3 floor generals in the state.If Simpson continues on his current track of development, D-I basketball is definitely in his future. Tre Cobbs is also considered a top 30 caliber player and has excelled at our elite showcases as well, as has Dantez Walton.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Molock Suffers another Injury

Kyle Molock-Senior Guard Dublin Coffman

I have always said; the game of basketball can be brutal. Unfortunately for Dublin Coffman’s Kyle Molock, the injury bug has struck again. On Tuesday, early in the 4th quarter at Hilliard Davidson, as the senior guard and St. Joe’s pledge “was defending, he made a spin move and heard a pop,” said Kyle’s father, Karl. “He [Kyle] knew right away [it was a second ACL injury],” added the elder Molock. As most people know, Molock missed his junior high school basketball season as a result of an ACL injury in his left leg. This time the injury was to the right knee.

According to Molock’s father, the recent injury “is nowhere near as serious as Kyle’s last injury. Last time, Kyle tore every ligament; he totally ripped up his knee. This time, it’s just a simple ACL tear, and Kyle should be fully recovered in 4-6 months,” added Molock. Molock is expected to make a full recovery and be back on the court by June; “even stronger than ever,” his father added. Molock is reportedly in good spirits. “I could not be prouder of him [Kyle] and how he is handling it [injury]. He is in great sprits and is already  focused on college,” offered Karl Molock.

For those of you who are wondering, St. Joe’s Head Coach, Phil Martelli, has already contacted the Molock family and reassured them that Kyle still fits into their plans. “We talked to Coach Martelli and he is very positive about Kyle long term. He is still planning to [come to Columbus and] see Kyle this season,” added Molock’s father. Buckeye Prep would like to wish Kyle a full and swift recovery!

Link to St. Joe's Message Board and well wishes for Kyle