When the Buckeye Prep Invitational tips off tonight at Central Crossing High School, both players and teams will be putting their reputations on the line in a field that can boast the state and region’s most elite teams. In addition, anywhere you find elite teams, you find elite players. When the bell sounds late Sunday afternoon we will have a clearer picture of who the top teams are and which players are truly prepared to compete on the big stage. In terms of the talent level in the event, in many of the divisions more than half of the teams competing are ranked among the state’s top ten teams according to our Power Rankings.
In the 5th grade division, the #1 ranked team in the state will be in the house, as the North Coast Blue Chips, featuring LeBron James Jr., will get their opportunity to showcase their talent to a statewide audience. The Blue Chips are loaded with talent with guys like Illinois’ Khori Thurman, Michigan’s Jahkari Townsend and possibly Texas’ Wesley Yates. Also, we are excited to get our first look at some of Ohio’s top 5th graders we have not seen like Gabe Cupps, Shawn Thigpen and Grayson Steary. Other top ten 2023 teams include the state’s #2 and nationally ranked Cincinnati Royals, #3 All-Ohio Red, #5 MWA Elite, #7 NEO Tru Game, #8 Toledo Wildcats, #10 MVP Dynasty, HM Mid-Ohio Pumas and Dayton Swish. Oh that’s not all, nationally ranked Team Teague will be in the building as will Kentucky Premiere. What’s crazy, some of these top ten teams won’t even make it out of pool play! The pressure is really on this weekend, and we’re happy these teams did not duck the competition and are committed to putting their reps on the line so their team and players can develop!
Other divisions are loaded as well, including the 6th grade with #2 Toledo Wildcats, #5 Ohio Shooting Stars, #8 All-Ohio Black, #9 All-Ohio Northeast, #10 Mid-Ohio Pumas, HM MVP Dynasty Black, EBA Hoops-Dalton and Ohio Varsity. We also have a couple of Indiana’s top teams with Team Teague, Indiana Elite/Game Time and Indiana Rise. Top 5 nationally ranked Emoni Bates (Michigan) will be joining studs like Nate Houston III, Demarko Craig and Jordan Kynard as they try to claim this prestigious title. Some of the other players we hope to see include: Raymar Prior, Joey Batista, Raymond Greene III, Jordan Huff, Danny Young Jr. Tayshaun Mayfield and Adam Williams.
The 7th grade division is also stacked with teams like #2 NEO Tru Game, #3 All-Ohio Red 2021, #6 Mid-Ohio Pumas, #7 Hardwork Basketball, #9 Cincinnati Royals, HM Dayton Wolves Bedford Raiders and Another Level. Add to that the Michigan Titans, Team Teague and Oakland Elite and you have a monster of a division! We have the feeling that some of the teams we have ranked as Honorable Mention will crack the top ten by Sunday. We hope to get a look at a few guys like Seth Wilson, Jaden Hameed, Brent Walker, Wil Sizer, Alex Williams, Isaiah May, Quincy Clark, Casey George, AJ Mirgon, Isaiah Walker, Matthew Smith, Nolan McCormick, Meechie Johnson, Makail Cottingham, Chanse Amerson, Anthony McComb, Kobe Bufford, Landon Tillman, Desmond Watson and Bryon Ottrix Jr.
The 8th grade division, featuring 25 teams, is no slouch, with teams like #2 Mid-Ohio Pumas, #5 Toledo Wildcats, #6 Ohio Bulldogs, #7 Dayton Swish, #8 Rebels Basketball, #9 Hardwork basketball, HM Another level, MVP Dynasty Black, Mid-Ohio Pumas Silver and SMAC Next Level. Indiana is represented with Team Teague and Indiana Elite/GameTime. We plan to watch guys like Chris Mayfield, Matt Allocco, Cameron McCreary, O’mahn Dobbins, Anthony Maxie, Jaylen Boyd, Carter Mims, Sam Anderson, Keshawn and Keon’te Hughley, Dominque Cole, Kendell Marshall, Jonzell Norrills, Nicholas Ferguson, Garvin Clarke, Marcus Johnson, CJ Anthony, Dominic Penn, Von Cameron Davis, Nehmiah Benson, William Jefferess, Brycen Holiday, Kevin Pack, Savon O’Neal, Jordan Howard, Larry Stephens III, Reis Walker, Jake Curl, Nate Griggs and Noah Platfoot. The 8th grade division should be a dogfight.
The 9th and 10th grade divisions have more of local flavor, but has some really good programs like King James/OV, Ohio Bulldogs, Garver Grizzles, All-Ohio Black, Mid-Ohio Pumas, Akron Bobcats, Ohio Hoopsters, All-Ohio Northeast, Dayton Nets and Probound. If you want to see top teams and the region’s most elite players, make your way over to the Buckeye Prep Invitational in Columbus, you won’t be disappointed!