|Ohio Hoopsters Huddle|
I headed back over to Reynoldsburg High School on Saturday to get a look at some of the 8th grade teams participating in the Nike Grassroots tournament. As soon as I walked in, I caught the tail end of a game which featured a match-up between Ohio Basketball Club's (OBC) 7th grade squad and All-Ohio Red's 6th grade juggernaut. With the way All-Ohio has been dominating 6th grade teams, they decided to play up in order to get some competition. Well, that's just what they got with OBC. I did not catch the game, but the score sheet indicated that All-Ohio held on to claim a 54-57 victory. According Coach DeMarko Bradley, All-Ohio jumped out to a 25 point lead, before "we put it on cruise control." Apparently, OBC's pressure was effective in causing turnovers, and OBC took advantage and cut the lead to single digits. All-Ohio was led in scoring by Jeremiah Francis who logged in a monster game with 30 points. OBC was paced by Ty Wiley (5'5 PG Columbus) and Jabari Perkins (5'6 WF Columbus) both of whom finished with 21 points.
|Ty Wiley & Jabari Perkins|
This weekend is a coming out party for OBC of sorts, as this team, as configured, is new to the AAU scene this year. After taking it on the chin from All-Ohio, their second game of the day was no easier. In their second game of the day against Hidden Gems, the score was tied at 21 at halftime. The leading scorers at half time were Jabari Perkins with 15 points and Hidden Gems' JR Shumate with 13 points. OBC would pull away in the second half and collect the 52-45 win. I have to give a shot out to Jabari Perkins. In this evaluator’s opinion, this kid went from virtually unknown, to a potential top 30 player. I only need to see one more performance like I saw this weekend to make that change! The kid is spectacular.
|Jaylen Harris, Marreon Jackson & Matt Davet|
I did get a chance to check out some 8th grade action, as King James and the Queen City Prophets (QCP) hooked up early Saturday morning. Although QCP teams are always scrappy, and Ozie Davis always gets the most out of his talent, it was evident very early that King James is in another class in terms of talent. King James has good size in the post with Kelvin Calhoun II, Matt Davet and Jaylen Harris, and their back court duo of Tommy Schmock and Marreon Jackson is dynamic. King James out sized QCP out every position, and used trapping defenses and precision passing in making this one look easy. I had not seen Maple Height’s Marreon Jackson in a while, but he looked great on Saturday. He is a undersized PG, but he is very quick in transition; is always on attack mode, and he can shoot it if left unguarded. Jackson led all scorers with 21 points. Matt Davit scored 12 points, followed by Jaylen Harris with 13 points and Tommy Schmock with 6 markers. Although Schmock may not put up big numbers, he does not have to on this team; being a floor general is enough. Cincinnati’s Will Coker was the high man for QCP with 18 points.
|Xavier Peters, Kane Cooper & EJ Willams|
Remember what I just said about QCP teams being scrappy and playing hard? Well factor in a 6’6 man child with one of the best point guards in the state, plus good wing scoring from the wing, and you have the 7th grade QCP team. Although my 7th grade Buckeye Prep team got out in front of the Cincinnati-based team early, the combination of EJ Williams in the post and Kane Cooper at the point proved a little too much for the undersized Buckeye Prep squad. “Cooper to Williams,” was the call all game as QCP would get the 56-46 victory. I would love Cooper running my point because he understands the game, always makes the right play, he is scrappy and is tough as nails, and can get the ball where it needs to be. At the end of the day, Williams is still unstoppable at this point in his career. If he gets the ball in the right position, look for an “and 1.” I also like Middletown’s Xavier Peters (6’3 PF) who is relatively new to the statewide scene, but already a key cog to the QCP machine with good size and athleticism. Williams finished with a game-high 24 points, followed by Peters with 15 points. I have to give props to Buckeye Prep’s Seth Goodson, who almost single handedly kept Prep in the game. Goodson is really starting to separate himself from other guards in this class, as some of the moves he was making on Saturday were “next level,” “big boy” moves! Later in the day, Buckeye Prep would defeat Truth Basketball 45-37. Leading scorers for Prep were Garrett Tipton (17) and Seth Goodson (11). The Truth was led by Alex Heath who finished with 8 points.
In other 8th grade action, Brooks Hall’s Next Level team is still one of the top teams in the state; however, the gap may have closed just a bit. Despite jumping out on Team Lima Kings 6-0, and leading for much of the first half, Team Lima recovered from a poor shooting start to get back in this game. By halftime, Next Level was only up 30-24. Credit Lima’s Jarious Ward for leading the comeback, as he slashed his way to the bucket to score or broke down his defender and created easy buckets for his teammate. As good as Ward was leading the comeback, Dayton’s L’Christian Smith was better. Smith was a force in the paint both offensively and defensively. He got buckets (14 points), rebounded and blocked shots. But that’s not all, Smith can handle the ball in transition, he’s athletic, and it’s clear that his game is continuing to develop. We don’t see much of him here in Columbus, but Smith should be considered one of the top bigs in the state in his class. Other leading scorers for Next Level were Ethan Zielazny with 10 points and Ryan Markoff with 9 points. Ward led Lima with 13 points.
|David Madison, David Fitzgerald & Juan Elmore|
One of the games of the day was a night cap featuring two of Ohio’s top 7th grade teams with a “new look” King James squad and the Ohio Hoopsters. Going into the game most fans were eager to see how the Hoopsters would perform without last year’s starting point guard, Ty Wiley who left the team for greener pastures at the Ohio Basketball Club (OBC). Also, with an apparent roster upgrade for King James that included SMAC’s Sincere Carry, All-Ohio Purple’s Jordan Coovert, and Antwaun Johnson, King James was considered the favorite. That was not the case last night, as the Hoopsters fought back from a slow start to capture a 58-64 win. Midway through the first period the contest became a game of runs, as each team had scoring spurts. Credit the win to hot shooting from David Fitzgerald and David Madison, and post scoring from Juan Elmore. Although the Hoopsters would keep King James in the game with ill-advised shots, the Hoopsters would hold on the claim the early season prize. Madison finished with a game-high 17 points, while David Fitzgerald added 16 points and Elmore added 10 markers. Mike Bothwell led King James with 13 points, while Jordan Coovert added 12 and Nico Cagiluso contributed 11 points.
With the addition of Isaiah Spellman, and Dane Goodwin playing well, Excel is really looking good. I caught a couple of their games on Saturday and this team is hitting on all cylinders. Great guard play from Allocco, Norris and Goodwin combined with post scoring and defense from Speelman makes this team hard to beat, and maybe deserving of the number one ranking in the state when the rankings come out in a couple of weeks. On Saturday, excel dispatched Next level’s B team 63-30. Earlier, Excel got by Lima’s Tier 1. I did not see the finish, but what I do know, Excel was up 39-16 at the half.
All-Ohio’s 7th grade squad collected a couple of more wins. One of those wins came against the Ohio Stampede by a lopsided score of 94-27. Jimmy Weirick was the high man with 20 points. Quincy Simpson’s 7th grade Tier 1 squad defeated Next Level’s B team 42-35. Van Wert’s Kobe Kelly (5’4 SG) went for a game-high 21 points. Finally, Chris Dennis’ 9th grade King of Courts squad took down the Hope All-star 57-47. Garfield Height’s Trashawn Robinson (5’10 SG) looked good as did Buchtel’s Ronnell Clark (5’8 PG). The Hope All-Stars’ Malik Harrison (6’3 WF Columbus) looked good also. Look for a final day recap later.
We will get a chance to take another look at these kids and teams in 2 weeks at the BuckeyePrep Invitational Tournament here in Columbus. It should be another great field with loads of talent. For more information about the event, click on the highlighted link.