|Toledo Wildcats-Class of 2022|
Although the 2016 travel basketball season is still a few weeks away, elite level basketball can still be found. Case in point, this past weekend the Toledo Wildcats traveled south to Dallas, Texas where they participated in the Hype Winter Jam, and ended up face to face with the Gulf Coast Blue Chips (GCBC), the #1 ranked 2022 team in the nation. After an opening round 54-13 win over the Dallas Mustangs, the Wildcats found themselves on center court and in a battle with Gulf Coast. Battling injuries and competing without a key player, Toledo was in position to win with only a few tics left on the clock. A lone GCBC free throw with 2.7 seconds remaining in the game propelled Gulf Coast to a 46-47 pool play victory.
Toledo would enter Sunday bracket play with a 1-1 record. Right out of the gate Toledo matched up with Texas Express and would advance to the second round with a 57-20 win. Next up was San Antonio Hardwork, and as was the case against GCBC, the Wildcats were in the game late, but eventually fell 45-47 in the Elite Eight. The Wildcats did not win the tournament, and despite 2 close losses, they were the talk of the tournament based on their near upset of Gulf Coast. “The #1 one team was going down. They [GCBC] fear us, said Head Coach Tony Kynard.
Emoni Bates (6’3”/WF/MI) was credited with most of the Wildcats’ success, as he was the team’s leading scorer with an average of 14 points per game. “Emoni led the team in a lot of areas,” Kinard said. Kynard is convinced his team will “garner national recognition,” after their performance in Dallas. He was equally excited about the buzz centered around Bates. “Emoni left [tournament] regarded as a top 5 player in his class,” continued Kynard.
Also playing well for the Wildcats were Dior Connors (5’7/SG/Columbus), Jordan Kynard (5’6/SG/Toledo) and Nareon Grier (5’7/PG/Toledo). Of note is the fact the Connors, once a key piece to John Mobley’s All-Ohio Red squad, will reportedly be running full time with the Wildcats this season. Connors, a potential top 10 player in the state, represents a big pick up for Kynard, and could catapult the Wildcats to the #1 spot when we release our Power Rankings in a few weeks. We can’t wait to get a closer look at the Wildcats at our Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament April 1st through the 3rd, where they could potentially be matched up against a Paul McMillian IV led All-Ohio Red team in super pool play. That should be a great game!