Thursday, May 31, 2012

King Returns to his Roots

VJ King-8th Grader

As if Ohio’s class of 2016 was not already stacked enough, in about 20 more days, one of the top 8th graders in the country will officially return to Ohio. Who is Vincent "VJ" King you ask; in terms of basketball, King is an athletic 6’6 WF who most national scouts who follow kids this young have already ranked among the top 5 players in the country. Although he did not offer specifics, King has already caught the attention of major college programs, as evidenced by his “significant” amount of interest and letters. Although, as a 6th grader he played on his high school’s JV team in North Carolina, King first grabbed national attention after his standout performance at Clay Dade’s Fab Frosh Camp in Suwannee, GA. King was only the second 8th grader in the camp’s history to be invited to the elite camp for rising freshmen. In addition, last fall at the John Lucas Camp in Louisville, Ky, King wowed those in attendance with his skill set and overall game (see video).

Although I have only seen King play a handful of times, it’s clear to this evaluator that he has elite level talent. Possessing good length, King is highly effective getting to and finishing at the rim.  He can also handle the rock, shoot from the perimeter, and finds open teammates. Defensively, King can guard multiple positions, and his length allows him to block shots at a high rate. In terms of his assessment of his own game, King counts as his strength his ability to score the ball and “set up teammates." At this point, despite early college interest, King has no childhood favorites, and is nowhere near forming a list of college favorites. Right now, King is content on developing both his basketball game as well as his budding golf game. “I play golf a little,” offered King. In addition to athletics, King is most proud of his academic success, as he is a straight A student.

As a kid, King is the son of VJ King Sr. Although King currently attends United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, NC, in a couple weeks, King and his family will move to Copley, located near Akron, and he will attend the famed Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s (ASVSM). As I alluded to earlier, King will soon be “returning” to Ohio when his father begins his new position with First Tee, a company he worked for in Charlotte.  VJ and his family are no strangers to the Buckeye State, as his parents were both born in northeast Ohio.  In fact, VJ was born in Cleveland, and left the state when he was years old. Therefore, the King’s return to the state actually represents a homecoming.

According to VJ’s father, who played college ball at DII Indiana University in Pennsylvania, and enjoyed a long professional career oversees, his decision to return to Ohio, and his son’s decisions to attend ASVSM were easy ones, for multiple reasons. First of all, other than the job opportunity, VJ senior’s longstanding relationship with ASVSMs’ coach Drew Joyce was one of the primary reasons for the family’s return to Ohio. “I have known Drew for the better part of a decade. I knew him before I was anybody, and before VJ was a good player. He humbled himself and was willing to take time out of his schedule to talk to me,” said the elder King. “It was not a very hard decision to make. We weighed all the factors, including the history of Drew and ASVSM,” continued King.  “I recruited Drew; we weighed the pros and cons, and as a family, we made the decision. The elder King was sure to point out that the decision to uproot his family and return to northeast Ohio was a "family decision," as his wife Lo and his younger daughter Jalen, a 7th grader, both supported the move. "My wife is a soldier; she trusts my decisions. She gave me her opinion and we both made the decision," King added. In terms of Jalen's  motivation in the move, "she likes the snow; she is a cool climate person; everybody else in the family likes the heat," added King.

This summer, King is running with All-Ohio’s 9th grade squad where he has teamed up with guys like Esa Ahmed, Noah Bramlage, Michael Simon, and Lamonte Stone Jr. Only an 8th grader, King is not only a starter on the team, he often appears to be the best player on the floor, which is significant given the talent level on that team. King is not new to the team, as he hooked up with All-Ohio at the end of last summer and attended the AAU Nationals with the team. The rest of King's summer will include stops at one of the 5 Star camps, one of the Jr. All-American Camps and participation in Cleveland's competitive Pro/Am league.

Although King is starting to get a lot of national attention, he and his family appear to be keeping everything in the proper perspective. “We (family) are sensitive about who we talk to. We understand this game is a journey and anything can happen between now and high school. VJ is only in the 8th grade. If he continues to work hard; is first in the gym, anything can happen,” stated VJ’s father.  With King’s immense talent, work ethic and continued family guidance, King’s upside potential is unmistakable. Buckeye Prep would like to welcome VJ, his father, his mother Lo and sister Jalen home to Ohio.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buckeye Prep Top 30 Rising 8th Graders (2017)

Below is a link to my initial list of Ohio’s top 30 rising 8th graders. As a disclaimer, the list represents “one man’s opinion,” of what I have seen with my own eyes, or have heard from multiple, credible sources. As you can imagine, it is extremely difficult to establish with 100% certainty who the “actual” top 30 players are in the state. I will fully acknowledge that at this early stage, some kids have been missed, and there are a number of names that should/could be on a list like the one posted below. However, for whatever reason, the player(s) have not been adequately evaluated enough during their school season, the AAU trail or at individual showcases and camps. I had almost 40 names on my initial list, but was forced to make some tough decisions and whittle it down. If your you, your child/player's name is not on the list, no disrespect or slight is intended, it's about what I see and hear.

For the most part, I have personally seen 95% percent of the listed players on multiple occasions and in multiple settings over the past couple of years. For the other roughly 5%, I have relied on input from coaches who coach teams in the class, independent observers, and other people who I trust to provide accurate and credible information. If you, your son, your player, your friend, ect is not listed, there may be multiple reasons (i.e. talent level, inadequate exposure, bad timing, inconsistent performance at competitive events, etc).

This list is still under development and will be updated as players emerge on the scene. My hope is to have a much more accurate list by the end of the player’s 8th grade year. That final 8th grade list is the most valuable in terms of exposure to the people that matter (i.e., college coaches, national scouts, event directors, etc). Therefore, I have another 12 months to put together a more accurate list before it is widely distributed national.  The younger lists are good starting points.

If rankings matter to you (for many people they do not matter at this age), then I would suggest a couple of things. Number one, get in the gym and work on your game daily. Most top players work very hard to develop their game and it often shows when it’s time to performer. Find a team that can both develop you as a player and person, and a team that will put you in situations where your talent can be seen. It’s not necessarily the top team(s) in the state; it’s the right team or situation for YOU! If you are on a team that does not compete in the top tournaments, or does play in those types of tournaments but is knocked out by Saturday afternoon; guess what; you are probably not going to be seen. Even if you are on a less than competitive team, there are ways to gain individual exposure. It may cost you time, money and a lot of driving, but you know what they say; “there's no free lunch.”

Whether rankings at the 7th grade matter at all is often debatable, and really varies from person-to-person. You and/or your parents have to determine to what extent rankings matter to you. They did for the Taylors, and we drove all around the country for years and spent a lot of time and money in the process. At the end of the day, it was money well spent, and I would not change a thing! I hate to be so wordy, but many years of doing this (rankings) have taught me what types of reaction I can expect when I put this information out there for public consumption. I’m ok with the debate that will follow, I will simply ask you to keep it civil, and make sure your child uses the list as motivation to make a list; remain on a list; or move up on a list. By channeling their energy in a positive direction, rankings do serve a purpose.

Now back to the class of 2017. Right now, the class is nowhere near as top heavy or deep as the class of 2016. If you have not followed Ohio’s 8th graders, you cannot possibly appreciate how good that class truly is, and how many quality players there are in the class. In addition, I’m not sure there is a consensus #1 player, or even a top ten. This class is still very much emerging and undefined at this point. It is my challenge to increase the number of opportunities to see and evaluate the class. At the end of the day, the class will be defined by the number of nationally competitive teams and the level of individual talent.

The number of elite guards and bigs seem to be down in this class, and after about the first 10-15 players, the talent level appears to drop off a bit. I hope that more of the top players rise to the surface, but every class is different, and depends on the teams the players play for, the coaches who advise them, the adults who handle them and to what extent they embrace some of my previous suggestions. In most cases, if I see a talented player, I write about them, take their picture and try to obtain information about them. If you have read about a kid on this website you know this to be true. Ok, enjoy the list, debate the list, but keep your child/player in the gym!!

Buckeye Prep Top Thirty 7th Graders

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend Recap

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.

Standout Performers

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.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Revised Middle School Team Rankings

Team Lima Remains the #1 Ranked 8th Grade Team in Ohio

Since the initial team rankings were released a little over a week ago, we have seen some movement in each of the three grade divisions. Murphy AC's championship run in the U-13 DI AAU State Qualifier last weekend was unexpected, and has resulted in their rise in the rankings.  Also, in the same division and the same tournament, a couple of Cincinnati-based teams (Royals & Friars) made enough noise to move up in the rankings as well.  In the U-14 division, the Dayton Heat finished second in the All-Ohio Super Showcase and announced to the big boys in the class that they can play ball. Although there was no major movement in the 6th grade division, the Pickerington Wildcats' second place finish in Cincinnati caught some people by surprise. With that said, at the end of the day, each of our #1 ranked teams retained their crowns for the time being. When the 8th graders tee it up at the DI AAU tournament in a couple of weeks there could be a lot of movement.  It should be a dog fight!

To see the revised rankings, go to the link located on the right side of this website (halfway down).  Click on the Team Lima team picture to see the rankings.  From here on out, updates can be found there. While you are on that side of the website, take the opportunity to look at all of the information contained behind the logos. Finally, I'm just about ready to post my list of the top 30 seventh graders and the top 6th graders in the state. the 7th grade list should be released sometimes next week, and the broader 6th grade list should be released within the next 2 weeks.  Right now, I have published a list of about 100 plus 7th graders which can be found on the right hand column of the website.  Please use the comment section below to comment on the team ranking (keep it positive!), and to speculate who will/should be in the 6th and 7th grade rankings. Remember, the rankings are designed to stimulate conversation, create a community forum for debate. No disrespect is intended, and credible information is always welcome.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ohio Kids Excel at National Camp

Derrick Daniels-6'7 PF/C Dayton

The John Lucas basketball camp has become one of the most elite middle school camps in the country.  In fact, an invitation to the elite camp is a tough ticket to come by, and is reserved for only the most elite players in their respective states. A couple of weeks ago, Ohio had a couple of representatives at the camp who made some noise and represented Ohio very well. Derrick Daniels, a 6'7 PF/C from Dayton, was ranked as the #4 PF in the camp.  In addition, The Hoopscoop's Clark Francis ranked Daniels #23 overall at the camp. Although he is more productive defensively at this point in his development, Daniels is bouncy with loads of athleticism, and is widely considered one of the top 1 or 2 big men in the state in his class. Checkout the Daniels' video.

Rodrick Caldwell-5'9 PG Dayton

Rodrick Caldwell was ranked as the #4 PG by Basketball Spotlight, was mentioned as a player to watch by The Hoopscoop, and is easily one of the top 3 floor generals in the state. Right now, Caldwell's best attribute is his ability to run a team and to get others involved in the game. Both Daniels and Caldwell are well know to Buckeye Prep as each player has excelled at our events. In addition, both players should get ample attention from D-I college coaches. Congratulations to both players for repping the Buckeye State!

Basketball Spotlight Camp Rankings

Xavier Simpson-PG Lima

It should be noted, Lima's Xavier Simpson also attended the Lucas Camp and was ranked 48th overall by The Hoop Scoop. I'm not sure any kid has attended as many Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase as has Simpson, and he has logged in all-star-caliber performance at every event. Each time we have seen him, Simpson has continued to get better. At this point, he is clearly one of the elite PGs in the class, and his leadership on the floor sets him apart from other lead guards in the state.

2016 Buckeyes Represented in National Rankings

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of Ohio 8th graders (and Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase alums) who made Nations Elite Prospects' list of top 8th graders.  Well, according to Sports Press TV's national rankings, Ohio has several 8th graders worthy of a national ranking. Although there are some slight variations in their list versus Nations Elite's, Sports Press has identified the same kids we here at Buckeye Prep have highlighted for the past several years.

Through our coverage of middle school basketball, as well as our tournaments and elite showcases, it's easy for national scouts and college coaches to find the top young up and coming talent here in Ohio. Buckeye Prep provides exposure opportunities where kids can make a name for themselves. What most people don't know, we routinely send out scouting reports and press releases to coaches and scouting services that people never see published, so that Ohio kids can get quality looks from around the nation. Don't believe the critics, people are watching and making note of the abundance of talent we have here in the Buckeye State!!With that said, we also offer exposure and a platform for any player, from any state, who we see and evaluate at our events and on the tournament trail. As always, we will make sure the folks at Sports Press TV get the final results of our September elite showcase. Below, check out their list of Ohio's best.

Sports Press TV National Rankings

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Alums

Buckeye Prep's Top 30

All-Ohio Purple Claims Title

All-Ohio Purple-6th Grade AAU DI State Champs

In the 6th grade division, All-Ohio Purple (AOP), Ohio’s #1 ranked team, solidified their place as the big dog in the state with a 45-42 win over the Pickerington Wildcats. By most accounts, AOP was the heavy favorite this weekend, but the fact that the Wildcats finished second, and took AOP to the wire, suggests that Picktown needs to move up in our rankings.  The championship game represented a rematch of sorts, in that AOP defeated Pickerington earlier in the year rather soundly. But on Sunday, the game was much closer. The Wildcats used an 8-0 run late to cut the AOP lead to just 1 point, and had a chance to tie the game with a shot at the buzzer  but could not convert.

In the semi-final game, Pickerington defeated a beefed up Dayton Metro team by about 9 points. I say “beefed up,” because Metro has added Dayton area’s Antwon Johnson, one of the top bigs in the state. The standout performers for the Wildcats included: Isaiah Steelman (6’1 C Hilliard), Seth Goodson (5’5 SG Gahanna), Xavier Henderson (5’5 PG Pickerington) and Garret Tipton (5’10 PF Orient).

Although the championship game was a close one, AOP’s semi-final game against the Cincinnati Lakers was deemed “the toughest of the tournament,” by the AOP coaching staff. In fact, the game was characterized as a “slugfest,” by the AOP coaching staff, that got a little chippy by the end of the game. The most outstanding players for AOP were Terry Durham (5’0 Combo guard), Demontez “Kane” Cooper (4’8 PG) and Jordan Coovert (6’0 PF). For the Lakers, the most outstanding players for the tournament were Cory Davis (6’0 WF Hamilton), Jack Crvaack (6’2 C Cincinnati), Ryan Hill (5’0 PG Cincinnati) and Johnny Miller (5’2 SG Cincinnati).

As a side note, and as expected, the 6th grade Ohio Hoopsters took home the gold medal at the DII AAU State Tournament in Columbus. On another note, I have to give some props to Coach Parker and Dayton Nets/Buckeye Prep, as they parlayed a good weekend of basketball to a second place finish. From what I hear, the Nets were as close 2-3 points late in the fourth quarter, but could not get over the hump against the Hoopsters. The Hoopster’s Juan Elmore, David Madison and David Fitzgerald were all standouts over the weekend. Also, the Nets’ Darius Quisneberry got great reviews for his performance as as did Deshan Parker. I have seen both of these guards on multiple occasions and they are ferocious competitions. The other teams receiving bids were Buckeye Prep who finished 3rd and TUFU finished in fourth place. 

Congratulations to Coach Jerry Francis and his 5th grade All-Ohio Red (AOR) for winning their 4th consecutive state championship this past weekend with their 6-point win over a very talented All-Ohio Purple (AOP) squad. The state of Ohio has had some classic rivalries over the years, but the AOR v AOP rivalry ranks right up there with the best.  Both teams have a legitimate chance to not only medal at the AAU Nationals this year, but either team can win it all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase (spring) 6/7th Grade Highlight Video

To see the recently released highlight video which was shot at the spring session of the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, click on the link below. Big props to Darnell for hooking up the sweet video!! Enjoy.

Highlight Video

Murphy AC Knights Capture AAU State Crown

Murphy AC Knight-7th Grade Ohio AAU DI Champs

Rarely do we see northern Ohio area teams traveling south to participate in the Ohio AAU DI State qualifier; it’s even rarer for those teams to actually play well enough to capture the gold medal. Well, that’s exactly what happened this past weekend when the Murphy AC Knights finished 5-1 on their way to winning the state qualifier. On the strength of strong guard play from Tommy Schmock, and the interior dominance of Jaylen Harris, the Knights made a statement this weekend with their win, and have now joined the argument about who should rein as the top 7th grade team in the state.

The Knights opened pool play with 2 convincing wins over the Cincinnati Lakers B team (40 +) and Columbus’ Mustang Ballers (30+), before stumbling against a well-coached Cincinnati Royals squad in overtime (52-48). The Knights would get back on track with a 10 point win over the Cincinnati Lakes in the first round of bracket play, followed by a double digit win over the Cincinnati Friars in a semi-final match-up.

The championship game featured a match-up between Murphy AC and the Ohio Hoopsters; the #2 and #3 ranked teams in the state. Although the Hoopster raced out to an 11-2 lead to start the game, the Knights would mount a 19-0 run of their own late in the contest, and eventually go on to claim the title. Despite the fact that he fouled out in the fourth quarter, Tommy Schmock lead all scorers with a game-high 18 points. The other top performers for the Knights were Jaylen Harris and Matt Davet. For the Hoopsters, Tyrell Ajian and Trey Pugh were lauded by Jim Schmock, the Knight’s head coach.

Tommy Schmock-Unofficial MVP

In terms of subplots, although the Hoopsters were playing without Garcia Dixon, a starter who did not make the trip to Cincinnati, they did pick up Ronnie Raymorn, a 6’4 C from North Union, who added depth in the post. Murphy AC did not have their full complement of players either; and was forced to compete with only 8 players. According to some of the coaches I talked to, some of the top performers over the weekend included: Tommy Schmock, Jaylen Harris, Ethan Bradds and Tyler Knetch. From what I heard about the play of Tommy Schmock, the kid continues to log in standout performances. Antwon Smith Sr., the acting coach for the Hoopsters, was really impressed with Schmock’s game. “He is the engine for that team (Knights). He penetrates well and can get anywhere on the floor he wants to,” stated Smith. Smith also liked Jaylen Harris, stating, “He has a lot of skill, and you can tell he plays with a lot of confidence. Smith was also complimentary of Ethan Bradds, a 6’3 PF from Jamestown.

In terms of the rankings, there will be some movement when I update the rankings later today. I heard a lot of positive things about the Cincinnati Royals, including the fact that they beat the tournament champs in pool play. However, it should also be noted that the Hoopsters defeated the Royals in the other semi-final game by about 20 points. Although Next Level, the #1 ranked team in the state, did not compete in the state tournament this weekend, I understand that they lost a close one to the Indy Hoosiers in the championship game in Indianapolis. Based on that performance, they may retain their number one ranking for now.

Congratulations to Coach Anthony Parker and his 7th grade Dayton Pilots squad for taking the championship of the DII AAU State Qualifier. The Pilots defeated the Capital City Cardinals B team 61-35 to claim the championship. The top players for the Pilots were Shamari Jamison (5'11 SF), Christian Montaque (5'9 G) and Demarco Long (6'2 C). In addition, I would like to give a shout out to the Northern Cincinnati Tar Heels for their 3rd place finish in the 7th grade division of the DII AAU State Tournament. Nicholas Bryant (6’0) and Evan Kuhlman led the charge as the Tar Heels defeated All-Ohio Purple to place. Although the Tar Heels have not yet secured a championship this season, they have placed 2nd or 3rd in a number of tournaments.  Keep up the good work.

U-10 Toledo Flash-AAU State Champs

Finally, I have to show a little love Coach Eddie Norrills and his U10 Toledo Flash for getting it done in the AAU state qualifier. The Flash easily defeated (+20 points) the Dayton Pilots to grab the gold. That teams has a pair of nice guards (Ketaan Wyatt & Zeb Jackson) that will making some noise in a few years, as well as some quality bigs. Congrats guys!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

DII Ohio AAU State Championship-Day One Report

Case Rankin-6th Grade PG Gahanna

This weekend is big for basketball in the state, as 3 major events tipped off on Friday.  In addition to the DI Ohio AAU State Championship in Cincinnati, the DII state qualifier is being held in Columbus, and Jerry Watson’s All-Ohio Super Showcase jumps off on Saturday. I had a chance to catch some of the AAU DII action last night in Columbus, where a slate of games was being held at the USA Sports Academy.

In one of the opening games, Ed Lyshe’s 6th grade Buckeye Prep squad faced off against Columbus-based OIC Dynasty.  By the time I got to the gym, Buckeye Prep had already raced out to a 10-0 lead. Dynasty finally got on the board with 42 seconds left in the first quarter (10-2). Dynasty would only score once in the second period, and Buckeye Prep would enter the half up 17-4. In the second half, Prep would maintain a comfortable lead, and go on to get the 38-21 victory. I’m not sure who the leading scorers where (no individual scores were kept), but Gahanna’s Chase Rankin logged in an impressive performance running the point. In fact, a fan sitting next to me was shocked to hear the Rankin was only a sixth grader, as his skill set and poise were that of an older player.

Needless to say, I was surprised to see the Ohio Hopsters, the second ranked 6th grade team in the state, competing in the DII state qualifier. As you would expect, the Hoopsters crushed their opening round opponent (TUFO) 54-24.  In fact, the Hoopsters started their reserves, who build a  17-6 lead by the end of the opening period.  When the starters were inserted, the lead ballooned to 33-8 by the end of the first half. TUFO was simply over matched by a much bigger and more talented Ohio Hoopsters.  There is really little doubt the Hoopsters will claim the gold medal by the time the horn sounds on Sunday.  I spoke with Lamont Tillman at the conclusion of the game and he mentioned the fact that his team will probably be competing in the DII AAU Nationals later in the summer.

I finally got a chance to check out Hill Sports, an 8th grade team based out of Columbus, as they matched up with .Dayton Metro. By half time, Metro was up by 15 points (34-20), and although Hill Sports cut into the lead in the second half, Metro was still able to hold on to claim a 62-53 win. The leading scorer for Metro was Danny Narlor, a 6’4 C from Xenia, who scored a game-high 22 points. I’m not sure what he scored, but I liked Hill Sport’s Tarik Wright, a 6’3 WF from Johnson Park MS in Columbus. 

In other 8th grade action, Dayton Nets/Buckeye Prep, cruised to an easy 50-24 win over the COBBA Knights. The funny thing about this game, I had recently heard some good things about Malik Quisenberry, a 5’11 combo guard from New Carlisle, and he just happened to be running with the Nets. Although I only caught glimpses of his game, it was clear that what I had heard about his game earlier in the week was on the mark. I plan to keep an eye on Quisenberry, as he has a chance to be pretty good.

I don’t really pay a lot of attention to 5th graders, but I have to admit, I really enjoyed watching Dayton’s Salvation Army battle against Columbus’ Bulldogs. Though the Bulldogs led for most of the game, Salvation Army would fight their way back and eventually notch a 36-29 win. Both teams were well coached and blessed with great guard play. For Salvation Army, Jaren Smith handles the PG responsibilities, and the kid handles his business.  The floor general for the Bulldogs is Antonio Green, who flashed advance ball skills.  The big dog for Army was Kendall Mathis, a 5’7 PF from Dayton.  The physically imposing lefty attacked the cup with a vengeance. In fact, whenever he received a feed from one of the guards, this kid wasted no time getting to the rim where he finished at a high rate. A couple of other players I plan to keep an eye on are Columbus’ Dorian Holloway and Benjamin Fort, both of whom are among the leaders on a talented Bulldogs squad.  If possible, I plan to make the trek to Cincinnati on Sunday to catch some of the DI championship games.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

U-13 Murphy AC Knights-Team Profile

Murphy AC Knights-7th Grade

For our next team profile we will take a look at one of the top 7th grade teams in northeast Ohio. Coach Jim Schomick’s 7th grade Murphy AC Knights has gotten off to a fast start to the spring AAU season.  In fact, the Knights have already compiled an impressive 32-3 overall record, and boasts of a solid resume of quality wins. So far this spring, Murphy AC Knights have three tournament championships to their credit, including titles from the Tournament of Champions, Solon Cage Classic and the Strongsville Cage Classic (8th grade division).  In addition, the Knights made it all the way to the elite eight of the prestigious King James Shooting Stars Classic 2 weeks ago, before getting downed by AI9 (57-50), the eventual Gold bracket champions.  Most teams are judged by the number of quality wins they have notched on their belts. The Knights have taken down the likes of the Pontiac Cobras, Team Lima Kings (#7 ranked), Cincinnati Elite (#4 ranked), db Hoops-Jackson (#8 ranked) and New York Elite.

Jaylen Harris-6'3 PF Garfield Heights

The main man for Murphy AC Knights is Jaylen Harris, a 6’3 PF from Garfield Heights, who is arguably the top player in his class in Ohio.  We have profiled Harris on a number of occasions based on his dominate performances at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases. Harris has good size, is athletic and is a rebounding machine. With that said, he is more than a rebounder and defense force, as Harris can score the ball at a high level. Every elite team must have solid guard play, and the Knights are no exception. Tommy Schmock, a 5’9 PG from Middleburg Heights, is the floor general for this team. Although Schmock is not blessed with lighting speed nor can he jump out of the gym; the kid has serious PG skills. Using his high basketball IQ, Schmock gets the ball to his scorers, he can handle pressure, and he is not easily rattled. From what little I have already seen of the kid, he has to part of any conversation that centers around the top point guards in the state.

Tommy Schmock-5'9 PG-Middleburg

The rest of the Murphy AC Knights’ roster includes: Matt Davet (6’3 PF), Nick Koller (6’0 WF), Sean Coyne (5’8 SG), Conner Adams (5’9 WF), Nick Coberly (5’11 WF), Jeff Petkac (6’2 C), Noah Trizzino (5’5 SG), Spence McClure (5’3 PG) and AJ Robinson (5’8 WF).  Coach Schmock intends to compete in the AAU state qualifier with plans to attend the AAU Nationals in July. Good luck to the Knights' players, coaches and fans the rest of the way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

U-14 SMAC Primetime-Team Profile

SMAC Primetime-U-14

As I have mentioned before, Ohio's class of 2016 is absolutely loaded, and may be one of the best classes we have seen in many years. By most accounts, Team Lima, All Ohio Elite and the Cincinnati Lakers are the top eighth-grade teams in the state; however, the Cleveland based SMAC Primetime has been making some noise recently and deserve a little ink. Below is a team profile of Primetime.

From what I hear, this team has tremendous chemistry and a solid core of talent. So far this season, SMAC has sought out and competed against some tough competition around the Buckeye state. Specifically, while playing in the Bearcat Classic in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, SMAC defeated the Toledo Ruff Riders, All-Ohio Purple, Nova Village and the Ohio Crush in the semi-finals before losing to the Cincinnati Lakers in the finals. In addition, recently, SMAC participated in the King James Shooting Stars Classic, finished first in their pool and advanced to the Gold bracket where they were later bounced from the tournament after a loss to #1 ranked Team Lima.

Devin Stover-6'1 SG/WF Cleveland

SMAC's starting 5 includes: Devon Stover, (6'1" SG/WF lefty), Tyler Tupa (5'8 PG), Justin Layne (6'1 PF), Ben Seaman (5'9 PG), and Mark Kostelac (6'7 C). SMAC is coached by SMAC Director, Doni Moody. We first got a glimpse at Stover last year at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, and his solid play that day got him noticed by a couple of the scouts who were in the gym covering the event. 6'7 Mark Kostelac already has the size to become an impact player; he just needs to continue to gain strength and improve his skill set. I hope to get a closer look at SMAC before the end of the summer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ohio Middle School AAU Rankings

Team Lima Black-8th Grade

14 & Under

1)    Team Lima Black
2)    All-Ohio Elite
3)    Cincinnati Lakers
4)    db Hoops Jackson
5)    TNBA East
6)    Dayton Heat
7)    VCC Warriors
8)    King James Shooting Stars
9)    SMAC Primetime
10) All-Ohio Red
Knocking at the door:  Cincy Gators, Nova Village & Cincinnati Bulldogs

Next Level Sports-7th Grade

13 & Under

1)    Next Level Sports
2)    Ohio Hoopsters/Cardinals
3)    Murphy AC Knights
4)    Cincinnati Elite
5)    Cincinnati Lakers
6)    Columbus Crusaders
7)    Team Lima Kings
8)    db Hoops
9)    Dayton Pilots
10) Cincinnati Friars
T10) Cincinnati Royals

All-Ohio Purple-6th Grade

12 & Under

1) All-Ohio Purple
2) Ohio Hoopsters
3) Excell
5) Murphy AC
6) King James Shooting Stars
7) Dayton Metro
8) Pickerington Wildcats
9) Cincinnati Sparks
T10) Dayton Nets/Buckeye Prep
T10) Dayton Pilots
Knocking at the door: BTC Trojans, All-Ohio Red & Buckeye Prep

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ohio AAU Team Ranking

Below are John Stovall’s Ohio AAU Rankings:

15 & Under

1.  King James 1 (Cincinnati Knights)
2.  All Ohio Red
3.  Ohio Basketball Club
4.  All Ohio Black
5.  King James 2
6.  Ohio Varsity
7.  DB Hoops
8.  Team Work
9.  All Ohio White
10.Ohio Gaters

-King James 1 safely out in front. AOR a solid second. The arguments start there. 

16 & Under

1.  All Ohio Red
2.  Team Work
3.  King James
4.  Ohio Basketball Club
5.  Ohio Varsity
6.  Shining Star
7.  Ohio Phenoms
8.  Ohio Gators
9.  Northwest Ohio Basketball Club
10.DB Hoops

-Top 4 are very close. King James may be the most talented but needs to get a big win over a big time opponent.  

17 & Under

1.  All Ohio Red
2.  Ohio Basketball Club
3.  Team Work
4.  King James
5.  Martin's Wolverines
6.  Ohio Phenoms
7.  Shining Star
8.  Hidden Gems
9.  DB Hoops
10.Northwest Ohio Basketball Club

-Very close at the top. AOR picked because of more wins over slightly better competition. High quality all the way through. Top 6 could beat almost anyone.

John Stovall

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase All-Stars Nationally Ranked

Alegevon Eichelberger Jr-6'5 PF Saginaw, MI.

For those of us who follow middle school basketball closely, we leaned a long time ago that people in the business of basketball are watching kids at a much earlier stage than ever before.  In fact, 7th and 8th graders often receive interest from college coaches, including actual offers in some cases. As is the case with the Buckeye Prep Report, a number of scouting services are covering events in search of the next crop of elite players. In fact, I just happened to visit our friends at Nations Elite Prospects, and discovered their rankings of the top 100 eighth  graders (2016) in the country. Of the 100 players listed in the rankings, 9 players have previously been selected as all-stars at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases.

Trevell Beck-6'5 PF Cleveland

Number 8 on the list is Michigan's Alegevon Eichelberger Jr., a 6'5 PF from Saginaw, MI, who has attended several of our showcases and tournaments. Eichelberger has excelled at every event we have seen him, and the big man is already drawing significant interest from several high major college programs. Right behind Eichelberger at 18th is Cassius Winston, a 5'8 PG from Detroit, who took home Top Five honors at our fall showcase last September. The top Buckeye alum is Trevell Beck, an athletic 6'5 WF from Cleveland.  Beck attended our spring showcase last year and quickly shot near the top of Ohio's 2016 list of elite players. Below is a link to all of the Buckeye Prep alums who made the list, as well as the full list of top 8th grader. Look for most of the ranked players at our fall showcase on September 22nd and 23rd. Rest assured, we will make sure our friends at Nations Elite Prospects know what goes down in September!

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Alums

Nations Elite Prospects

Buckeye Prep Top 30

Weekend Recap

VCC Warriors-2016

In the 8th grade division of Ohio Youth Basketball's Dayton Metro Tournament this past weekend, the Columbus-based VCC Warriors went 5-0 on their way to the tournament title. In the championship game, the Warriors easily got by Dayton Metro (77-49) to collect the hardware. The leading scorer in the championship game was Dantz Walton who finished with a team-high 18 points and 5 rebounds. Right behind Walton in scoring was Jordan Kinchen (12 pts & 2 stls), Houston Smith (12 points), Matthew Moyer (11 pts & 9 rbs), Seth Towns (10 points), Hayden Audsley (8 pts & 8 rbs), Tyrell Carter (6 pts) and Tyus Ferguson (4 steals). The Warriors are coached by former Ohio State coach Dave Spiller, former Ohio State player Brian Brown and Fred Moyer.

U-14 All-Ohio Elite continued their hot spring with a big time win at the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam at the Spiece Fieldhouse in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. After going 2-0 in pool play, All-Ohio Elite ran off 4 more wins against the Michigan Titans, MBA Select, Mac Irvin Fire and Speice Gym Rats-Strine to claim the championship. Team Lima Black was cruising along undefeated until they ran into the Speice Gym Rats-Strine in the quarter-finals, and All-Ohio Red lost in the same round to Speice Hustle. In the junior-to-be division, All-Ohio Red lost in the championship game to the Louisville Magic. The Ohio Basketball Club was downed by The Family in the semi-finals of the senior division, and All-Ohio Red lost to the same team but one round earlier.

Jerrantae McCombs & Deonte Lesperance

One of the best games I've seen all spring featured a 6th grade match up between Ed Lyshe's Buckeye Prep squad and the Dayton Pilots at the Dayton Metro Tournament. Not only did the game include multiple ties and lead changes, but it took 2 overtime periods to produce a winner. In the end, the Dayton Pilots would out last Buckeye Prep to get the 54-52 win. The leading scorers for the Pilots were Deonte Lesperance (5'4 SG Huber Heights) who finished with 16 points and Jerrantae McCombs (6'2 C from Huber Heights) who added 13 points.  Buckeye Prep was paced by Kristian Pachac (16) and Chase Rankin (10). Pictures. In the 6th grade championship game, Dayton Metro beat the Ohio Tar Hills for the title.

6th Grade King James Shooting Stars

Congratulations to the 6th grade King James Shooting Stars for winning the championship of TNBA's All-American Cage Classic at Garfield Heights HS in Cleveland. Finishing the tourney 6-0, with wins over Elite Skills Navy and Murphy AC; King James defeated Mr. Basketball Acadamy by about 20 points in the final game to claim the championship. Some of the standouts for King James included Yael Hill and Nico Cagliuso (sp?). Congratulations to Coach Trevon Chesney, Phalon Ferguson and the players and fans for taking home the gold! In the 7th grade division of the same tournament, TNBA West Red defeated Murphy AC in the chmpionship game, and The Sho handled Murphy AC Kalish to take the 8th grade crown. For the final results in all of the divisions, vist the TNBA website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bulldogs Claim Eddie Ford Title

U-14 Cincinnati Bulldogs-Eddie Ford Spring Classic Gold Division Champs

The weekend before last, Coach Rob Greene’s U-14 Cincinnati Bulldogs squad went undefeated on their trek to the Gold division championship of the Eddie Ford Spring Classic in Louisville, Kentucky. In pool play, the Bulldogs cruised to multiple 20+ point wins.  In the championship game, the Bulldogs took down Elite Sports Center out of West Virginia.  For the tournament, the Cincinnati-based team was led in scoring by T.C. Wells (6’2 PF/C), Phillip Dozier (6’1 PF), and William Greene (5’7 SG). Buckeye Prep is familiar with all three players as they have each excelled at prior Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases. In fact, Wells has been building a case as the most athletic and most explosive player in  the 2016  class.

T.C. Wells-6'2 PF/C Fairfield

Although Wells paced the team during the tournament, and reportedly put on a dunking contest in front of the college coaches, the Bulldogs’ success can be attributed to team play. “What I love about this team, is that everybody believes in one another,” said Coach Greene. In addition to a full slate of AAU tournaments, the Bulldogs are getting in extra work in a U-16 league in Cincinnati. In addition to a 3-1 league record, the Bulldogs are 17-4 overall.

The Bulldogs’ roster, starting with the starting 5, include: Wells, Dozier, Greene, Kobie Johnson, Hunter Lampley, Shawn Brown, Perez Rankin, Sam Hansen, Jordan Anderson, Keneen Brown, Joey Smith and Lucas Buddemeyer.  Despite the fact they have a couple of players on Buckeye Prep's list of top 30 players in the state, the Bulldogs are still looking for statewide respect. With solid guard play from Lampley and Greene, and elite athleticism with Wells and Dozier, there is no reason this team should not be competitive with the big boys in this class. All I can say, the Ohio AAU State Tournament is going to be a monster! Congratulations to Coach Greene and his team for repping the Buckeye state in Louisville.