Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ohio Hoopsters Fall League Boasts Talent

Jerome Hunter-2018 Monroe MS

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to check out some of the action at the Ohio Hoopsters’s Fall basketball League at New Covenant Church in Columbus.  For three years now, Lamont Tillman and Tony Lavender have hosted the fall league, and in each of those years the league has experienced significant growth. This year, the 8-week league has 44 teams and about 450 kids in grades 3rd-12th. According to Tillman, “the league has continued to grow because 90% of the top kids in 8th grade and below in the city are in the league, and the top kids want to play against the top kids.”

Although I did not get a chance to spend a lot of time in the gym on Saturday, while I was there a few kids caught my eye. I checked out a very competive 7th/8th grade game between the Cavs and the Rockets.  The Cavs boasted a stacked roster that included Pickerington’s Jeremiah Francis and Gahanna’s Gerard Reynolds, both of whom were dominate in the game, while pacing their squad to the win. As he did this summer in the NYBL, Francis scored in bunches with strong drives to the cup while Reynolds was beast in the paint and finished often around the bucket.
 
Jeremiah Francis-2019 Pickerington

Although Reynolds and Francis are the headlines, they are surrounded with talent with 2018’s Jerome Hunter (6’2 WF/PF Monroe MS) and 2019’s N’Keeley Elmore (4’8 PG), both 8th graders. I’ve seen the speedy Elmore before, but Saturday was the first opportunity I had to see Hunter, who has only been in Columbus for about 2 years.  Hunter may still be flying under the radar for now, but that will soon change as Hunter as significant upside potential! From what I saw this weekend, Hunter has good length, is very skilled and has a great motor. Hhe also has a nice looking shot, can execute on the pick and pop, has a solid midrange game and a high IQ.  That’s not all; he can guard multiple positions, blocks a lot of shots and runs the floor very well for his size. I plan to keep an eye on this kid; he could be a good one going forward if he continues to develop!

Antonio Green-5'3 PG Columbus City Prep

I was also impressed with Coach Leon Towns’ Rocket team which featured a highly skilled Antonio Green (5’3 PG Columbus City Prep). I was truly impressed with Green’s feel for the game and high IQ. He was also very poised, and did a great job getting his teammates involved. He rarely turned the ball over, found open guys and also scored the ball. Green has the ball on a string and is equipped with several quality dribble moves he uses to gain separation from his defender. Green has nice little floater and a nasty step back shot. He did a great job working off screens, and when his defender went under the screen, he read it correctly and knocked down the jumper consistently. Green is really fun to watch, and should have his way with opposing guards during the upcoming middle school season.

Jejuan Weatherspoon-6'0 SG/WF Columbus

In addition to Green, the Rockets have a good one with 2018’s Jejuan Weatherspoon (6’0 SG/WF Sherwood MS). If that name sounds familiar it should, as Jejuan is the younger brother of Toledo’s JD Weatherspoon. He may not be as explosive as his older brother at this point in his development, but Weatherspoon is very athletic, has a solid handle and displayed a nice looking shot. Weatherspoon was also very aggressive and was good at attacking the basket. As was the case with his brother, look for Weatherspoon to continue to develop his skill set and to make his own name in central Ohio basketball.  Hopefully I will get another opportunity to catch more of the action at the Hoopster’s fall league.

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