Twelve Ohio-based teams participated in this year’s D-I and D-II 7th Grade AAU Nationals, and by the time the dust settled on Sunday in Memphis, only 4 teams returned to the Buckeye state with hardware. Although the Columbus-based Excel got off to a rocky 0-2 start in pool play that ultimately relegated them to the D-I Classic bracket, they refused to get discouraged and pack it all in, then proceed to make a magical run that did not end until they were crowned champions of the Classic bracket. They may have been led by their main guys like Dane Goodwin, Isaiah Speelmam, Braden Norris and Matt Allocco, but Excel has always been about total team effort, so “total glue guys” like Jake McLaughlin, Xavier Henderson, Eli McNamara and Nathan Hellstedt played a significant role in the team’s run to the championship. SMAU U made the deepest run in the D-I tournament, but besides Excel, there were no other D-I teams from Ohio left playing on Sunday.
|Excel-D-I Classic Champions|
For the record, in D-I, the order of finish is as follows: 1st-Georgia United; 2nd-Team Izod; 3rd-We All Can Go All-Stars; 4th-NC Runnin Rebels; 5th-Spiece Ky. Gators; 6th-San Antonio Hardwork; 7th-DC Assault; 8th-ATR Xplosion; 9th-Chicago Select; 10th-Florida Phenoms; 11th-SW Illinois Jets; 12th-Team Ramey; 13th-CB Spiders.
Although the Buckeye state was not represented among the D-I finalist, in D-II we dominated! Of the top 12 finishers, Ohio placed 3 teams in the top 10. With an overall record of 6-2, and for the second year in a row, Shining Stars-Kelly placed 3rd. Right behind the Shining Stars with a 6-2 overall record was Dayton Metro who finished in 6th place. Last year Chuck Painter’s squad placed 4th. With a 7-1 record, Buckeye Prep finished in 9th place.
For the record, in D-II, the order of finish is as follows: 1st-Slam & Jam Hoyas; 2nd-Judge’s Court; 3rd-Shining Stars-Kelly; 4th-NC Swarm; 5th-Eastside Hoops; 6th-Dayton Metro; 7th-Inland Force; 8th-Indana Blizzard; 9th-Buckeye Prep; 10th- NJB Orange County Stars; 11th-St. Louis Gateway; 12th Memphis War Eagles (6th grade).
In closing, I thought most of the Ohio teams really represented the state very well. In addition, although we often beat each other up on the court and sometimes on the message boards, I was really proud of the fact that we supported each other in Memphis last week. On several occasions players and coaches from opposing teams not only came out to watch other Ohio teams play, they actively rooted for and chanted O.H.I.O. in support of their follow Buckeyes. Trust me on this one; Ohio’s support for each other did not go unnoticed by the fans from the other states! You guys may not realize it, but we really have something special going on in the Buckeye state!
|Dayton Metro-D-II 6th Place Finish|
Now that the AAU season is in the books for the class of 2018, the next big event will be the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase currently scheduled for September 21st and 22nd. In addition to the traditional showcase on Sunday, I’m currently putting together the rosters for the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game. Also, I’m also working on an Ohio vs Indiana game as well which should really be HOT! Look for those rosters to be posted in the coming weeks. Congratulations to all of the players, coaches, parents and fans for a great season! See you in September!!